Book review by Pat Mercer
Some time ago, one of our members sent me a flyer containing details of The Mysterious Goat, a book which she thought might be of interest to the rest of us. After having read the basic information, I couldn’t wait to receive the volume itself. When it did eventually arrive, it absolutely blew me away. What a fantastic find. Page after page of high quality photographs, appropriately – and sometimes humorously – illustrating the accompanying text. They represent the author’s life-time collection of post cards, sketches, stamps, paintings and other resources, all reflecting the timeless connection that has existed between the goat and mankind. The beautifully written text accompanying the illustrations, thoughtfully set out throughout the book, makes it compelling reading.
One soon realizes that it is the work of a man with not only an uncanny insight into the character of the animal but also a genuine love of the species. His knowledge of the historical and cultural links and subsequent significance of the goat over the generations is immediately obvious.
It is set out nine sections, with numerous relevant subtitles. Any section of special interest could be read independently of the rest, each being complete in itself. This is one of its editorial strengths, adding to its appeal. The first section, for example, is entitled ‘From prehistoric times to factory farming’ and covers our ancestors and the forefathers of the goat, the onset of domestication in prehistoric times, the development of breeds, conserve the past, with a view to the future, limits in breeding, intensive breeding, factory farming and biodynamic goat keeping. Another section, on behaviour, looks at behaviour and physical characteristics, hoofs for climbing, sheep and goats differences and similarities, imprinting, the buck, obedience, learning ability and intelligence. The remaining seven sections include ‘The goat in a man’s world’, ‘ Milk’ (e.g. the goat as a foster mother with intriguing photographic examples), ‘The goat in religion, mythology and folk lore, in science and the arts’ and other topics.
This book represents a lifetime of involvement with and research into the place of the goat in the world throughout time and its connection with man, by the author, Dr. Naaktgeboren. It is not only a tribute to his dedication but an unique gift to everyone professing an interest in goats and goat keeping.