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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 14, 2011
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Guest Reviewer: Susan Casey
© Ruven Afanador
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?
“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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So, with that said, I love this book! The author made sure to cover all sides of shark hunting, demonstrating its importance to fishermen and different local economies and also why it's harmful to the oceans to continue such practices. The book is written more as a novel than a non-fiction piece and the folklore surrounding sharks is told in a way that does justice to their mythical powers. As a shark lover, I was already pro-shark, but now I understand how and why some cultures see sharks as gods and how hunting them is an integral part of their way of life, which adds a whole new aspect to my respect for them.
Most of the rest of the book, was a kind of travelogue with the author traveling around the world diving and swimming with sharks, researching the shark fin trade and repeating over and over again how shark populations have declined by 99% in the last few decades. Interesting natural history facts were few and far between.
As a naturalist, I am very interested in conserving sharks - in reducing or even preferably eliminating the shark fin trade and more - but I feel this book could have been far more effective in the service of that goal by spending the lion' share of the book explaining and describing the wonders and diversity and adaptability of sharks and then concluding with "and this is why we need to fight the shark trade" rather than bludgeoning the reader over and over again with the same depressing statistics and the apparent hopelessness of the situation.,
Don't be thrown off by the cover and the title -- I actually don't like things about sharks because I don't like hearing scare stories about people being torn to shreds or about sharks being demons, but that's completely not the focus of this book.
This is an easy book to carry about and read a chapter at a time here and there. Major points for readability.
Most recent customer reviews
This is not a biology book.Read more