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Kraken : The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Length: 234 pages

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Editorial Reviews


"Williams is a fine writer and takes us on an engaging and informative journey through the world of cephalopod science..." --- John Farndon, The Spectator

"The giant squid is now accepted as a fact of oceanic life and I have been revelling in all squid in the recently published American book Kraken...."
Simon Barnes, The Times of London

About the Author

Wendy Williams's writing has appeared on the front pages of the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Baltimore Sun. She's also written for the New York Times, Parade Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and Science. Williams is the coauthor of Cape Wind, which was named one of 2007's ten best environmental books by Booklist and one of the year's best science books by Library Journal. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • File Size: 974 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0810984652
  • Publisher: Abrams Image (March 4, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QGY58C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,975 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

What is it like to be a horse? Why does the horse have a hoof instead of toes? How ancient are the roots of the partnership between horses and humans? And why do humans so clearly need horses in their lives?
Lifelong equestrian and career science journalist Wendy Williams has wondered about these questions for much of her life.
In The Horse, an epic biography of the horse-human partnership that's been years in the writing, Williams answers some of these questions. In her quest to satisfy her curiosity, the Massachusetts resident travelled all over the world to ask more than 100 scientists about the past, present and future of the horse in our world. What she learned completely changed how she viewed horses.
The author of several books, Williams' journalism has won a variety of prizes. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, Scientific American, Science, Audubon, National Wildlife, International Wildlife, and countless other publications.
She is in the process of acquiring an American mustang.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wendy has an enormous capacity for fascination, scale, and detail. It is hard to discern if she finds the scientists studying squid and octopus more fascinating or the creatures. She has a great facility with moving from small to large, from a remarkably clear rendering of the neuron's work, to a picturesque descripton of Woods Hole, Mass -- keeping story, history and science all moving forward. We learn about a squid who harvests light producing bacteria and evicts those who underperform; we learn that "neurosurgeons are surprisingly squeamish" (perhaps one of my all time favorite lines), and that Horace Walpole ("around the time that Ben Franklin was killing wild turkeys with electricity in the colonies") coined the term "serendipty" and that there is more in science that is "serendipitous" than you might expect. There is a mother lode of material here for a novelist such as Jeanette Winterston and for all of us whose senses have become a little dulled by the daily grind. I believe that this is an important book, such that I will tell you that I found the first chapter slow going. I think that Wendy may have been trying to give us too much of an overview before the reader was sufficiently engaged. So, skip the first chapter if you must, but don't be deterred. You will go back to read it because, by the end of the book, you will be entirely engaged with the marvel of the squid and the writer's mind which encompassed it. Congratulations, Wendy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't honestly say I loved absolutely every second. There were moments when I found Williams's prose a little cutesy, or her transitions jarring, or I wished there was more detail about something. But for a slim book, it packs in an incredible amount of breathtaking information and also does a great job of presenting enough of the basic scientific context to let you understand the material. (E.g., I understand how neurons work a lot better now.) Consistently enthralling.
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kraken. As a scuba diver I have long been fascinated by cephalopods, especially octopi and Caribbean reef squid. I marvel at their obvious curiosity and especially at their ability to mesmerize by changing their colors so quickly and beautifully. With reef squid, when you get close enough you can even see electric pulses going through their body that are iridescent and also very colorful. Kraken did a lot to explain how and why this occurs and goes even further to provide much information and discussion about the intelligence of these marvelous sea creatures. In addition to that, Kraken provided some big surprises. I had absolutely NO idea how valuable research on squid neurons has been to human research and medicine. That part of Kraken was truly fascinating. I highly recommend reading this book -- and you don't need to be a scientist or scuba diver to enjoy it and relate to it.
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Format: Hardcover
Cephalopods, a group of animals that include octopuses and squid, may be some of the oldest creatures in the known world and can vary in size from a fraction of an inch to hundreds of pounds. In this wonderful exploration of one of the sea's most mysterious class of creatures, Wendy Williams explores the strange and unique aspects of the cephalopod and explains why this odd creature may have done more for the advancement of medical science than any other animal in the world. She shares the reasons people are so squeamish when it comes to this animal and the unique way they display intelligence that scientists are only now beginning to discover and tap into. Drawing upon research that stretches back hundreds of years, Williams shares the common misconceptions that have hounded squid and octopuses from their earliest days and delights her audience with the weird and wholly unexpected reality and astounding facts about the cephalopods that abundantly fill Earth's oceans.

I'm a nut for science writing, particularly nature writing. In my efforts to discover all that I can about the flora and fauna that populate the world, I sometimes come across a book that I can't ignore. This was such a book. I had never really given squid and octopuses much thought because, frankly, they seemed a little too gelatinous and slimy for my liking. But when the opportunity to review this book came up, I jumped on it because it fed my need to know more about nature and the strange things in the sea. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest by this book and found that Williams has not only a conversational and accessible style, but that she used the most fascinating analogies and illustrations to show just what being a cephalopod is all about.
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Format: Hardcover
The New York Times Book Review characterized her 2007 book " Cape Wind" as a great summer read. That can certainly also be said of Wendy Williams's latest - KRAKEN - a survey into the wondrous world of squid, cuttlefish and octopuses. "Kraken" was the name given by seafarers to a mythological and allegedly dangerous sea-monster nobody had really encountered and of which there was only superficial knowledge. It reportedly could drag a whole ship, sailors and all, down to the bottom of the sea. Williams, who has written for the New York Times, Scientific American and many other publications, acknowledges that the size of animals might have been considerably greater in prehistoric times, but such a giant squid would even then have made an unlikely appearance.
As Williams herself says, the science of these animals is not for the faint of heart. There's a lot of catching, cutting and dissecting of the Cephalopods - animals with their legs attached to their head. This is graphically rendered in the b/w illustrations and might indeed reduce that great-summer-read experience. But with the recommendation of Neil Shubin, the quality of the science should be in order. One can think of his " Your Inner Fish" and another wonderful book " A Fish Caught In Time", written in 1999 by Samantha Weinberg. The latter relates the search for the " living fossil"- fish the Coelacanth, eventually found in the waters around Madagascar and named "Latimeria Chalumnae" after Marjorie Latimer who at the time was a junior member of the research team.
Not surprisingly, there is a journalistic feel to Williams's writing. It's casual and loose and makes for pleasant reading. Some sentences could perhaps have been looked over a bit more.
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