Book Review: “Hidden: Animals in the Anthropocene,” Edited by Jo-Anne McArthur and Keith Wilson

Hidden features the work of 40 international photographers who have documented animals hidden from public view in the food system, entertainment, research, religion, and tradition. The massive 320-page hardcover includes 200 images from six continents and inaugurates the field of animal photojournalism. In this emerging genre, photographers capture and expose human conflicts with non-human animals and face some of the planet’s worst atrocities – such as live animal markets, which are the source of the current pandemic.

Hidden is, by nature, a tough book to read. The first page full of text urges you not to look away, and I will admit, at times, I absolutely had to. This is a tough but true look at what happens to animals in industrial farming. It is gruesome, sometimes downright disgusting, but also very necessary.

I have been on a personal journey that brings me closer and closer to veganism each day, week, and year. I live in a small farming community in Massachusetts, and as I was growing up, my grandparents were dairy farmers. While I spent most of my time chasing the cats around the hayfields, the cows were my best friends. I am (luckily) allergic to milk, so consuming it was never a part of my routine, but after growing up and exploring farming a bit more, if I weren’t allergic, I would’ve stopped immediately. I never saw the rough part of my grandparents’ dairy farm, but as I look back, I don’t have any memories of calves on the farm. Hidden fills in the gaps of where they likely were.

This book isn’t going to be for everybody, and honestly, a few of the people I shared it with had to put it down and walk away. I myself am thankful to have a digital copy that I can visit when I want instead of having a copy staring at me from the bookshelf. However, I think that is one of the messages of the book. Just like the first page said, don’t look away. If we turn a blind eye to torture, it will merely continue. Hidden does a horrifyingly fantastic job of exposing the exploitation of animals around the globe.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, We Animals Media, for review.

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