"Paul Trout advances a scintillating theory for the origins of storytelling, mythmaking, and ultimately, of modern folklore, fiction, and, yes, religion. We humans narrate our lives in these ways for the same reason we are afraid of the dark: it is full of predators (or the hardwired memory of predators) that would like to eat us. Replete with evidence from the natural world, the world of myth, and the work of evolutionary and cognitive science, Deadly Powers is variously provocative, smart, unsettling, and fun."
—Todd Tremlin, Author of Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion
"Cave bears, saber-tooth cats, giant raptors, tigers, serpents, crocodiles: early humans lived in constant fear of being devoured by these powerful predators. Over the millennia, as we evolved from prey to hunters, the ancient dread and awe of predators remained embedded in myths about bloodthirsty creatures, as monsters, gods, benefactors, and models. Paul Trout’s deeply researched and compelling Deadly Powers reveals the visceral impact and survival of the primal human fear of dying by carnivore. A wonderful book!"
—Adrienne Mayor, Author of The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans
"Rather than being on the top of the food chain, we humans have been mainly a prey species throughout most of our evolution. In this extremely well-written and entertaining book, Paul Trout shows us how predators have shaped our psychology in such a way that many of our cultural myths and the stories we tell have been shaped by the predators that stalked our early ancestors."
—Robert W. Sussman, Department of Anthropology, Washington University
". . . well-written, well-researched, and highly informative about the grisly predators that stalked us in our early days. Trout’s major contention is that scholarly works in this area have tended to underestimate the importance of radical fear ‘in the beginning’ and the myths that have sought to make it intelligible. Tender-minded readers may find parts of this book distressing, and that is certainly the author’s intention: you need a strong stomach to think about Day One."
—Dudley Young, Author of the Pulitzer-nominated Origins of the Sacred
"Trout has written an interesting and original exploration of our early history with predatory animals and our modern obsession with violence in the media. . . ."
—Merlin Donald, Professor emeritus, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and author of Origins of the Modern Mind