Man and Animals-Yuri Dmitriyev


Published in Moscow by Raduga in 1984, translated from the Russian into English by Raissa Bobrova, “Man and Animals” is an out-of-print book on man’s relationship with animals through the ages. I recently spotted the unforgettable cover featuring a giraffe, a sea serpent or kraken, a mythical Arabian Nights type bird (Rukh) carrying an elephant, a schooner, a butterfly and an anachronistic helicopter, on an Ebay listing for “Rare and antiquarian literature”. Though I was tempted to buy it, the book wasn’t cheap at thirty dollars. A brief search later, I found it on Amazon for four dollars and it is now sitting on my bookshelf, between a Harry Potter and a Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Like many Russian titles from the Soviet Era, the author remains largely mysterious; is he a zoologist, a wild life writer or just someone who happens to love animals? The back cover is blank, except for a small sticker in the bottom left that has the letters, “Imported Publications” on it with an Illinois address underneath. In this post-glasnost era, there still exists a limited market for Soviet relics, including Fairy Tale Books, Matryoshka dolls, communist propaganda and other items that are slowly vanishing into obscurity. As a result, thousands of excellent Russian books on a variety of subjects from Mathematics to Culture have been relegated to flotsam after a wreckage.

russianbook2041 Next to an outline of a sea populated by even more fantastic creatures, the author gives a brief description and I am quoting from it :

One book is not really enough to tell about the many different relationships between Man and animals. Nor have I tried to embrace the subject in its entirety. I wrote this book for children, striving, above all, to make them understand how important it is to know, love and protect animals”.

Indeed, the author’s passion is manifest on every page. In lucid prose, he brings together history, zoology and anthropology, re-iterating how dependent man has been on animals for survival. Almost encyclopedic in scope, the book is rich in content, including in its pages prehistoric cave paintings, animal legends, Gerald Durell, Martha-the last passenger pigeon, the coelacanth and numerous black and white photographs, drawings and reproductions so that even if a child was reluctant to read, it could spend hours staring at the pictures, like I once did.

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20 Responses to “Man and Animals-Yuri Dmitriyev”

  1. 1 Anne De Plume
    October 14, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I was very happy to stumble across your site and write-ups. Very impressive articles and great historicizing. I was surprised by your flair to collect books that are out of print and rare. Enjoyed visiting your site 🙂 …. Thanks for sharing your treasure with the world.

  2. October 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you so much for reading Anne; your visit means a lot to me. :–)


  3. 3 Arun
    August 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I came across this book in a second-hand book store and got it for a bargain price of Rs.40(INR).Yet to read though.Looks interesting.Nice post.Kudos.

  4. 4 Arun
    August 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I came across this book in a second-hand book store and gpicked it up for a bargain price of Rs.40(INR).Yet to read though.Looks interesting.Nice post.Kudos.

  5. 5 Spirit
    May 21, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I also came across this in a second-hand bookstore, 2 years ago. It was one amazing read. Then I came to this site while looking for a picture of the book’s cover for my blog, and I’m very glad to see people who also think good of the book. Thanks for reminding me of such a great read.

  6. 6 Jaswinder Sandhu
    September 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    This is an extraordinary book. I have a Ph.D. in Zoology. I taught about wildlife in a university for about 9 years and used this book as a starting block for my training in wildlife science. This is as full of knowledge as animals are of secrets or may be a little less than them as many of these secrets are being discovered every now and then. This is one of the best books I have read in my life. I bought it back in 1982 as it was not at all expensive in a Soviet book store in India. Thanks to the extraordinary Yuri Dmitriyev and Raisa Bobrova (forexcellent translation) and earlier USSR for making it available at a price which I could pay to have it for my life.

  7. December 31, 2011 at 11:28 am


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  13. 15 Krishna Mohan
    May 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Its one of the best books in my collection, I still remember the days, when I used to wonder at the rare pics in my school days, back in 1990s, almost after 1 years I purchased it from a second hand collection. its really informative resource, which can make a man more alert and aware towards the world of animals, which he shares his existence

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  17. June 15, 2018 at 5:22 am

    I had one with that giraffe cover too but I gave it to someone else. Now I really miss the book but it’s not nice to ask the person for the book again. It’s a funny situation haha.
    It’s still available on Amazon but they don’t have the edition with that cover.

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