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The Book of Deadly Animals Paperback – January 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Did he say repugnatorial gland? What a wealth of information Gordon Grice is, and what a fine, beguiling writer. This book is a must for anyone even remotely thinking of getting a monkey, a sea lion, or, heaven forbid, a dog.” — David Sedaris

“When it comes to the most deadly animals on the planet it is best to be prepared! Forewarned is forearmed!” — Bear Grylls, host of Man vs. Wild

“I read with my dog in my lap and my heart in my throat. It’s a wonderful, slightly terrifying, utterly captivating encounter with the animal world—not quite like anything I’ve ever read before.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“A fresh, strange, and wonderful new voice in American nature writing.” — Michael Pollan

“Gordon Grice writes about animals with a wit that relies on tone of voice, his ironically exact diction and an instinct for analogy … he has a scholar’s precision and a fourth-grader’s enthusiasm.” — Michael Sims, The Washington Post

“To weave the facts so artistically together as Mr. Grice has done takes considerable talent and a keenly felt interest.” — Meredith Greene, San Francisco Book Review

“Grice tempers his book with grim humor, a genuine enthusiasm for the subject, and fascinating trivia (Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was based on an actual whale named Mocha Dick that terrorized the South Pacific). A gifted writer, Grice’s relentlessly detailed descriptions of the effects of spider and snake bites, as well as the outcome of tangling with pencil catfish or alligators, may make this rough going for the easily squeamish, but those with a fascination for wildlife will find this an informative and dramatic study.” — Publishers Weekly

“Taps nicely into our enduring, awed fascination with nature’s predators and the popularity of TV shows such as The Crocodile Hunter. . . . Grice has been dubbed ‘the Stephen King of nature writers.'” — The Bookseller

About the Author

Gordon Grice has written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Discover, and Granta. His first book, The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators, won a Whiting Writers' Award and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Public Library. He lives in Wisconsin.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143120743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143120742
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Franklin the Mouse on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Towards the beginning of his book, Mr. Grice has a great line, "To consider animal behavior without history is to misunderstand it." The author then goes about describing how humans misread many potentially dangerous animals by anthropomorphizing their actions. He correctly argues that much of this is rooted in an arrogant religious mindset that human beings are at the top of the scale of value, so that any information that moves us lower must be explained as abnormal. This silly attitude isn't science but simply wishful thinking on the part of people. As he says, "In the real world, the significance of things is situational, not determined by some preordained ranking." Human actions, such as encroachment into other animals' habitats, factor largely in the hunting habits and conflicts which arise between us and other animals. This book explains what happens when we cross paths with creatures who are very capable of doing us harm or serving us up as the main meal on that day's culinary delights.

Many of Mr. Grice's stories of deadly animals getting the better of people sure tested my faith in the intelligence of mankind. There's no way around it, some of the victims were laughably stupid. The author has a wonderful, playful ability to explain dangerous wildlife in layman's terms. He covers all the bases. Land, air, water, you name it, there's something out there to do you in. Mr. Grice explains the habits of canines, cats, bears, hyenas (darned right scary fellahs), sharks, fish, whales, numerous other denizens of the deep, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, birds, monkeys, apes, chimps, bats, rodents, elephants, farm animals, and the one section that had me squirming through the entire seventy pages pertained to spiders, boatloads of different insects and worms.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on March 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Grice gives a quite comprehensive lowdown on most animals that can possibly eat you, poison you, bite your finger, or rip your face off. He deals with big carnivores, sea urchins, dive-bombing birds, ants, rats, yacht-sinking sea lions, baby-snatching baboons, and shrews with a rather venomous bite. The fact-laden account is suitably laced with tales of terror, but it strives for balance and accuracy. It's a fun way to soak up tons of info. on animal-human relations in every corner of the globe.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Isostar on February 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read an excerpt on Gizmodo the other day and was instantly enthralled with the subject. Who isn't at least somewhat interested in reading about deadly animals? Without previewing any more, I took a chance and ordered the paperback on a whim. The book arrived fast (gotta love amazon prime), and I've already read the first two chapters: Dogs and Bears. They're both well written, informative, and offer a thoughtful perspective on the animal groups themselves, as well as our perceived and actual interactions with them. I know this book will be a quick read as I already find it difficult to put down.

To sum it all up: well written, well researched, and very entertaining. Thank you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TrailDog on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Having just encountered an extra large grizzly bear yesterday morning, this book caught my interest at the library. I often realize how weak and small I am in comparison with the large predators that roam my home state. This book did nothing to console me, but happily many of the most deadly species, like nile crocodiles, tigers, or venomous snakes live far far away from me.

As a wildife biologist, I appreciated the biologically and factually thorough, humorous, well paced chronicle of a variety of deadly creatures- keeping in mind even the tiny insect that, though less feared, actually cause more deaths than tiger, lion, or bear. I also enjoyed the authors insights into human's "take" on different wildlife and how this influences our behavior. For example, we tend to think that wild animals are, by nature, afraid of people. Not so with reptiles like crocodilians. We are on the menu as much as any other creature. As pet owners, we give canids a "pass" in some cases, because we consider them members of our family, and thus a nip is misbehavior and not aggression. But spiders are feared even when not venomous. The parasitic worm section was especially gross- I mean illuminating.

A worthwhile read and offers some unique insight that got me thinking about our place as "alphas" in this world of claw and fang, where insects are actually king. Nicely done and the author shows a real fascination with his subject which comes through in the writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on February 11, 2013
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This book is basically a collection of stories about bad animal/human incidents. It is well written and quite terrifying. Overall there is some pretty good advice there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Misfit5150 on October 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gordon Grice once again visits the topic of dangerous animals, utilizing his unique mix of objective fact, dry humor, and playful morbidity. This writing style is not as pronounced as in his previous book, "Red Hourglass", and I feel that the latter work is a superior literary achievement. His latest offering leans more towards a research of documented animal attacks.

Not that this deters from the entertainment value of the book. Quite the contrary. It is this encyclopedic wealth of information that really drives home Grice's writing. He systematically covers dozens of species ranging from tapeworms to elephants. For each one, he methodically explains what the species is, exactly how it is dangerous, and then proceeds to list numerous instances in which it has been proven to be dangerous. By the time you reach the end of the book, you may be hesitant in stepping outside the safety of your home. Not that your home is by any means safe, you will learn.

A friendly suggestion to all you campers out there. Forget ghost stories by the campfire. Instead, pack a copy of this bad boy in with your gear, and when the time is right read aloud a chapter or two covering species indigenous to the area. You may not sleep a wink.
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