Thursday, July 19, 2007
A book review of:
I’ve had a very hard time reading Steve’s new book and viewing the companion CD included inside the back cover; very hard indeed.
You are probably asking why. Simple; the Stafford is part of our lives, my wife Carolyn and I. We have so many anecdotes that support all the points that Steve and others write about in this book. We have also lost all but one of our Staffords in the last few months and miss them terribly. Each section reminds us of some event in our life with Staffords.
But putting my personal stuff aside I find the book and CD a mixed bag of good and bad.
Pictures: lots and lots of pictures (photographs). The ones in the book pages are black and white but this does not detract from their unique value to Stafford fans. The CD has hundreds more photos in color. And unlike most other Staffords books; you haven’t ever seen most of these photos. Worth the price of the book just for the unique photos.
This is a book that, to me at least, puts everything together in one place. The contents span from the breeds founders, the type of people and environment that propelled such a unique strain as the Stafford, to the present day, and the truly all purpose dog that has blossomed forth into so many diverse activities and accomplishments.
The historical context running throughout every chapter. The fact that different people wrote chapters in the book and CD so you are not getting “one man’s opinion” like most other Stafford books.
Early showing, the war years, post-war years, Steve’s experiences founding the breed first in Finland and then in the USA. All is there. Breeding, showing, and health issues and then spanning to all the present activities that the Stafford is involved in such as flyball, obedience, coursing, weight pull and so on.
The chapters on rescue and breed specific legislation are experiences I do not wish to be reminded of; but both must be covered. But they are bad subjects for me personally.
But the BADDEST part of Steve’s creation Celebrating Staffordshire Bull Terriers is:
- This book covers everything except how to raise your pup and potty train them.
- This book spans together all generations of Stafford fanciers; past, present and future. Living or not. This is bad for one book to cover it all.
- This book is the only Stafford book anyone will ever need in his or her library.
- Steve has ruined it for all future would-be writers of a book on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Period.
Okay. These aren’t really bad things as in rotten or no good.
So actually, it isn’t a good or a bad book. It is a great book.
All the best,
Terry and Carolyn Stewart
Posted by Stoutheart at 5:32 PM
Book reviews of:
The Complete History of the Fighting Dog by Mike Homan - and - The Staffordshire Bull Terrier by H. N. Beilby
Folks, folks, folks,
I have been reading two interesting books that I acquired recently, Mike Homan's book, The Complete History of the Fighting Dog (1999) and H.N. Beilby's book, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (1997, 4th ed.)
Having had the chance to read some of Mr. Homan's musings on this breed published in other Stafford publications whetted my interest in what he was producing in the book world. My copy of his other book, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in History and Sport is still due in.
The Complete History of the Fighting Dog is strong in its historical research of bull and terrier early combat venues, not only against canines but against all other manner of beasts including man. The pictures and artwork are incredible of early dogs, showing the wide variety of the breed in various periods. Unfortunately the phrase "the complete history" is a bit overstated as the book leaves out some other aspects of the fighting dog and other breeds, but these are covered in other books. I have had several nights enjoyment reading and pouring over the pictures in this book. There are some early dogs pictured that I mightily admire, hard to find the like today. I especially liked Mr. Wall's dog Buller as a depiction of the "modern" type. There is a wire-coated bull & terrier named Brutus, seen in an engraving from 1825. I'd like to see that same type of dog today if anyone has a clue where to go. I would also like to know if anyone can lead me to a gentleman by the name of John James of the Bushtucker kennel? He has a mighty fine dog pictured of a type that seems to me to transcend time, building a type bridge to dogs of many decades ago. Homan reports the fellow has been at it 30 years.
Now as to the Beilby book. I know that certain "fringe" elements wouldn't call it a book that answers many questions, but the book should be read by anyone in this breed to understand the context of the breed at the time it was being accepted into the Kennel Club and the standardization process certain circles were aiming at. Regardless of what group within the fancy a person may cast allegiance to, this book is a must read to see why a large body of the breed has gone the way it has.