Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in America

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Product Details
West Virginia University Press
Publish Date
7.4 X 9.1 X 0.9 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author

J. L. Anderson teaches history at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. Prior to his academic appointment, he was a museum educator and administrator, cultivating a personal and professional interest in swine at the agricultural museums where he worked. Anderson is currently president of the Agricultural History Society.


"In the vein of William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis, this is a meaty, accessible, and clear-eyed agricultural history."

"Anderson's investigation is thorough, focusing on economic and social impacts, and, when appropriate, unflinching."
Publishers Weekly

"Anderson delivers the most thorough account of American pigs ever written, a book packed with fascinating detail on where pigs lived (forests, farmyards, city streets), what they ate (nuts, corn, garbage, the corpses of Civil War soldiers), and how scientists transformed their bodies and their lives to meet the relentless demands of the market. This is the story of how pigs made America, and how America remade the pig."
Mark Essig, author of Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig

"J.L. Anderson weaves a complex story about the hog industry's impact on the growth of an economy and offers insight into the important role the agriculture and food industry played in the building of a nation. You will find yourself surprised by its influence."
Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, 2009-2017​

"J. L. Anderson's Capitalist Pigs is a thorough and engaging examination of swine in US agriculture, culture, and history. It will be a standard to judge later histories of Americans' relationships with agricultural livestock and domestic animals."
Leo Landis, State Curator, State Historical Society of Iowa and "the Bacon Professor"

​"A sweeping history of pigs in the United States from before the arrival of Europeans to today. In Anderson's clear, brisk, and clever history, these animals appear as wild beasts roaming forests, domesticates in farm pens, commodities in railcars, corpses on slaughterhouse hooks, meat at the ends of butchers' knives, consumer products in Walmart coolers, nourishment in human stomachs, and as transplanted hearts thumping away in human chests. It's fun to read."
James C. Giesen, author of Boll Weevil Blues: Cotton, Myth, and Power in the American South

"A clear and accessible read, beautifully illustrated with paintings, maps, and photographs that demonstrate the prominence of the pig in America."
Environmental History