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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks + Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution + The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Revised and Updated: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First 2 Prtg edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780375425127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375425127
  • ASIN: 0375425128
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Reviewer: Susan Casey

© Ruven Afanador
Susan Casey is the bestselling author of The Wave and The Devil's Teeth.

In the deeply mysterious ocean, no this darkness, and shows how corner is more shadowy to us than the unknown, uncharted realm of the shark. And as with all shadows, we’re afraid of what lurks in them. Juliet Eilperin’s beautifully evocative Demon Fish lights up fearing sharks rather than understanding them has cost us more than we know. (It’s cost the sharks even more: Though we’ve never been able to pinpoint how many of them live in our planet’s waters, we do know that their populations are plunging, possibly even into decimation territory, largely at our hands.)

For my money the best, page-turning narratives are immersive ones, and Eilperin excels at this. Readers will enjoy traveling with her as she ventures from Indonesia to Japan to Africa to North America in dauntless pursuit of answers to questions that few writers have asked: Why do we approach sharks with such runaway emotion? Why do we fear these fish sometimes, and revere them others? What’s really going on with these animals, beneath the ocean’s surface? And of course the big one: after surviving all five global mass extinctions, can sharks make it through another decade of co-existing with us?

--Susan Casey

Review

“For this inclusive and important book, Eilperin traveled around the world to find people who study, fish for, dive with, venerate, or have been attacked by sharks . . . . [she] discusses many others who have brought sharks into human consciousness—Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and Jacques Cousteau; to this list, we must now add Eilperin herself.”
—Richard Ellis, The American Scholar
 
“More books probably have been written about sharks than about any other creatures that live in the sea, so when I opened this one I was skeptical: What could it possibly add? A great deal, it turns out . . . Eilperin circles the world in pursuit of sharks and the people who love and hate them . . . whether they are killers or protectors, she tells their stories with fairness and understanding. I forgot the time as I immersed myself in the world of sharks. Whether you’ve never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you.”
—Callum Roberts, The Washington Post
 
“Eilperin investigates the greatest threats to sharks: the shark fin trade and the ecological and economic forces affecting shark populations . . . The book is certainly timely. And Demon Fish does the subject justice.”
—David McGuire, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Poised to be one of the summer’s most compelling beach reads.”
—Rachel Syme, NPR.org
 
“In this wide-ranging natural history of shark-human relations, the author recounts frank interviews with an entertaining cast of scientists, fishermen, wholesalers, chefs, and eco-tour operators, all of whom have a stake in the survival of the oceans’ top predators. She also gets into the water with the sharks. For readers who like passionate investigative reporting.”
—Rick Roche, Booklist
 
“In this fascinating and meticulously reported book, Juliet Eilperin crisscrosses the globe, on the trail of one of the most mysterious creatures. She illuminates not only the hidden nature of the seas, but also the societies whose survival depend on them.”
—David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
 
“Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is the shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it.”
—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World


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Customer Reviews

Really interesting read, one of the best chapters in the book.
Bradley Bevers
Instead, Eilperin presents her facts judiciously, walking the fine line between too much and too little detail to serve her narrative.
Matthew A. Bille
"Demon Fish" provides a very interesting look at the ways in which sharks and humans interact.
Rob Huddleston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sharks were once worshipped as deities, later feared and loathed, still later hunted to the brink of extinction. Which brings us to the present time, with shark populations in precipitious decline. People tend to think of sharks in terms of their rare but deadly attacks on humans, but they are also an important part of the ecology of the oceans, and their loss will bring irreparable harm.

Written in chatty, journalistic style, reading Demon Fish is like watching multiple episodes of Sixty Minutes, with visits to shark callers in Papua New Guinea, shark fin traders in Hong Kong, shark fishermen, and activists of all kinds trying to save the sharks. Interesting tidbits about the biology of sharks alternate with interviews, skipping from one country and continent to another, stopping in at shark auctions, to quaint shops with dried shark fins in jars, to committees for the sharkers and other committees for shark conservation. Plus, everything you ever wanted to know about shark's fin soup.

And there's the problem with this book. Too much, too scattered, and too preachy. Author Juliet Eilperin maintains the same chatty style chapter after long chapter, but left this reader skimming toward the end of the book. The material about sharks themselves was fascinating, but there wasn't enough of it to hold this reader's interest. If you're obsessed with saving the oceanic environment you will probably like this book, but it's not my favorite. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Laura Probst VINE VOICE on June 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sharks are not the best ambassadors for their own survival. The original sea monsters of yore, they are not cute and cuddly, warm and fuzzy. And while they may be photogenic, it's not in an "Aww" kind of way. It's more akin to an "Aaah!" So while other animals imperiled by man's actions, such as the playful otter and friendly dolphin, the majestic whale and the placid turtle, endear themselves to humans and thus find themselves saved from utter destruction, it wasn't until recently that anyone started giving a damn about the horrible, deadly, sinister, man-eating shark and the fact that we've been killing them off indiscriminately since we discovered their existence a few hundred years ago. Many cultures, both today and in the past, might say the only good shark is a dead shark. Well, as some individuals and countries are coming to find out, that statement is the biggest piece of dumb-ass logic anyone has ever thought up.

We've so impacted the shark's environment, with our industries, our pollution, our fishing, that not only have several species of shark declined in population by anywhere from 90 to 99%, those sharks being caught today are smaller than their counterparts of even just a hundred years ago. Sharks do not rebound quickly; though some species give birth to large litters, many species take years to mature and only reproduce a limited number of times in their life--most of the time the litters they produce are small, with only one or two pups per birth. While we've begun to--finally--set aside protected waters, those areas cover only a fraction of the shark's territory and even then, some of the protections contain loopholes which still allow sharks to be fished.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Galluzzo VINE VOICE on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For some reason, it's a message that isn't getting through: we're killing our oceans. We fish certain stocks to unsustainability, move onto the next species, clean the ocean of that one, and move onto the next. The past century of technological advances in fishing have led to the death of our oceans.

Yet, lost in all of the drama of plunging edible fish stocks have been the apex predators. While last ditch efforts may rebuild popoulations of cod, herring and other fish, the plight of sharks may not be reversible. And the numbers are simply stunning in some cases: one species of hammerhead shark is currently at 1% of its historic population, and more monster shark fishing tournaments are being scheduled every day.

Author Juliet Eilperin brings us through what it is about sharks that makes us ignore their needs, the unwavering ignorance that allows us to remain blind to their problems, and our knee-jerk fears of the animal, traceable back to one 1970s summer blockbuster film. Demon Fish examines the relationship between man and shark, and implores us to act on their behalf.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Kennen on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Based on the back cover, I was expecting a sweeping anthropological examination of the complex relationship between man and shark. Based on the title, I was expecting the book to have a high degree of passion - perhaps even sensationalism. Instead I got... something that is not easy to describe. A detailed, yet somewhat dry look at the ancient, disappearing art of "shark calling" segues into a detailed, yet choppy look at the shark fin soup industry which segues into a hodge-potched and mostly basic look at the research of shark scientists around the world, along with repeated reminders that sharks are in critical trouble and must be saved.

I like sharks (you know, in theory; far, far away from me, or separated by a thick sheet of glass). I agree with all of Eilperin's conclusions (that sharks are worth saving, that shark fishing should be more regulated; that it needs to be done on a global scale). But I must sadly admit that she makes a poor case for the sharks, repeatedly stating her conclusions, while writing WHY sharks are important to the ecosystem (and therefore to us) only at the very end... and only in a very fleeting manner. While there is some good information and occasionally entertaining story-telling, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the order of the book or, in fact, why Eilperin chooses to convey some information and not address other things.

Sharks ARE evolutionarily complex and fascinating creatures. As apex predators, they have an outsized effect on their environment. They are worth studying - and conserving. They are also worth a book that does them justice. Alas, this one is not it.
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