> Skip to content
  • Published: 16 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787631199
  • Imprint: Bantam Press
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $40.00

The Unexpected Truth About Animals

An entertaining and thought-provoking series of case studies on how to future-proof your business in a digital age, from the founding editor of WIRED.

David Rowan travels the globe in search of the most exciting and pioneering startups building the future. He's got to know the founders of WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Google, Spotify, Xiaomi, Didi, Nest, Twitter and countless other ambitious entrepreneurs disrupting businesses in almost every sector. And yet too often the companies they're disrupting don't get it. They think they can innovate through jargon: with talk of change agents and co-creation gurus, ideas portals and webinars, make-a-thons and hackfests, paradigm shifts and pilgrimages to Silicon Valley. It's mostly pointless innovation theatre - corporate nonsense that has little to do with delivering real change. But during this quest he's also discovered some genuinely exciting and transformative approaches to innovation, often in places you might least expect.

Get ready for:
· The airline that rewards passengers for walking their dog
· The bank that performs surgery
· The country that's an app store
And many more.

Packed full of tips for anyone looking for radical ways to adapt and thrive in the digital age, this carefully curated selection of stories will reveal ideas for creating genuine innovation from some of the world's most inspiring leaders.

  • Published: 16 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787631199
  • Imprint: Bantam Press
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

David Rowan

David Rowan was founding Editor-in-chief of WIRED’s UK edition and technology columnist for The Times, GQ, Condé Nast Traveller and The Sunday Times. He travels excessively to meet crazy-driven startup entrepreneurs who are reinventing every industry in fascinating ways. Fortune 100 companies regularly hire him to explain how these startups plan to kill their businesses, and he invests these speaking fees holistically in startups that plan to kill the corporates’ businesses. David founded Voyagers.io to build meaningful community through magical travel adventures. And he’s still searching for the future.

Praise for The Unexpected Truth About Animals

Clever, thoughtful, accessible and, above all, so SO funny.

Henry Nicholls

This 21st century bestiary is as surprising as it is diverse. Consummate natural history writing: illuminating, remarkable - and very, very funny.

Professor Alice Roberts

Fascinating facts combined with hilarious ridiculousness.

Tony Robinson

Fantastic. The new Origin of Species. A proper page turner.

Vic Reeves

A compendium of intriguing and revelatory animal information - you may find dolphins go down in your estimation, while hyenas go up ...

Robin Ince

Lucy Cooke's modern bestiary is as well-informed as you'd expect from an Oxford zoologist. It's also downright funny ...

Richard Dawkins

An eye opening , informative and hysterical history of our ideas about animals - very funny !

Chris Packham

The rising star of natural history ... is she the new David Attenborough?

Sam Machell, The Times

Beautifully written, funny and jam-packed with astonishing information.

John Lloyd

Endlessly fascinating.

Bill Bryson

A riot of facts....Cooke scores a series of goals with style and panache.

James Marriott, The Times

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Highly amusing and enlightening new book [from] brilliant zoologist Lucy Cooke.

The Idler

Beautifully written, meticulously researched, with the science often couched in outrageous asides, this is a splendid read. In fact, I cannot remember when I last enjoyed a non-fiction work so much.

William Hartston, Daily Express

TOP AUTUMN BOOK PICKS: Lucy Cooke's fascinating book is full of mind-boggling stuff. Cooke takes much pleasure in throwing in all manner of amazing facts.

Reader's Digest

Lucy Cooke's The Unexpected Truth About Animals was a joy from beginning to end. Who could resist a writer who argues that penguins have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years, and that, far from being cute and gregarious, they are actually pathologically unpleasant necrophiliacs?

John Crace, Guardian

Best science pick. Sigmund Freud's first paper involved the dissection of eels in an attempt to locate their testes. To his frustration, Freud failed to find any. The eel's life cycle remains slippery, notes natural-history broadcaster Lucy Cooke in her deeply researched, sassily written history of "the biggest misconceptions, mistakes and myths we've concocted about the animal kingdom", spread by figures from Aristotle to Walt Disney. Other chapters spotlight the sloth, vulture, hippopotamus, panda, chimpanzee and others, and dismantle anthropocentric clichés with scientific, global evidence.

Barbara Kiser, Nature

The eclectic stories come thick and fast, with an equally varied human cast dedicated to uncovering the truth, scientifically or otherwise. Cooke illuminates and mickey-takes in equal measure, and the truth as she tells it is not only unexpected but often bizarre, bawdy and very, very funny.

Amy-Jane Beer, BBC Wildlife

Lucy Cooke unravels myths that will make you laugh out loud. Her knowledge of all things, furry, slimy and scaly is jaw-dropping.


Best of the year's Natural History. Best for Fun Facts. Fascinating.

Mail on Sunday

Brilliantly researched and hilariously informative

William Hartson, Daily Express

Packed with knowledge and eye-opening animal history . . . almost every page contains something startling. In bringing us all this information, Cooke has clearly done her homework - travelling the world to see the animals for herself, and consulting many obscure books . . . a winning combination of thorough knowledge, lots of good jokes and a passionate love of animals that means Cooke can even mount convincing defences of such despised creatures as vultures. An often eye-popping, occasionally hair-raising, but ultimately joyous reminder of just how strange our world is.

Daily Mail

Each of Cooke's thirteen breezy yet fact-stuffed chapters traces the origins of a long-standing myth about a species or class of animal.

Jennie Erin Smith, TLS

A bloody fabulous read. Thoroughly recommend.

Sue Perkins (Twitter)

Related titles