When I saw this book, The Universal Sense, reviewed in Publishers Weekly I immediately ordered it for the library. I was really excited about a book that might possibly talk about some of the issues and situations I've personally experienced growing up with a deaf parent. Unfortunately, this book doesn't ever touch on what it means for a human to be deaf and how the loss of hearing can impact a person's life. Horowitz, who is a professor at Brown, does talk about how certain animals experience deafness (particularly frogs and bats), but he focused more on his study of how animals and humans experience sound for advertising, and how certain sounds can have certain effects on different people.
After I got over the initial disappointment that the book wasn't what I was expecting, I began to realize that Horowitz is a very funny writer. There are moments when he drifts in the realm of TMS (too much science) and I tended to skim those sections. The real gems in this book are his footnotes. He will be talking about having to stalk male bullfrogs in swamps only to footnote his statement with "my doctor has told me I have the only recorded allergy to frog urine: Frog 1 Scientist 0". Horowitz also must have spent much of his youth tormenting people with sounds if any of his experiments with nausea inducing rock music can tell you anything about his personality.
If you are interested in why human lose their hearing? or why are scary movie soundtracks just so damn scary? Then this is the book to pick up. I'm not sure if I agree with the tagline "a must-read for anyone with ears" because is specifically ignores talking about the group of adults and children who cannot hear yet still have ears. Yes, I will admit that Horowitz talks about advances with cochlear implants and the research into regrowing the hair cells in your ears, but nothing about the experience of deafness itself.
Personally I think this is a big hole because if there are some people who have never heard at all, then hearing really isn't a "universal sense" and it begs the question: is there really a sense that everyone and every animal can experience? I know that there are people out there who have never seen, but there are animals that have evolved without eyes. There are people who cannot smell, not sure about the animal counterpart to that however, and whether due to accident or genes people who cannot touch or taste (I cannot feel one half of my mouth because of an accident during my wisdom tooth removal). In all, I think this book was very interesting for what it was, but disappointing because of what it wasn't.