- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (May 24, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451678940
- ISBN-13: 978-1451678949
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.97 shipping
The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World's Most Coveted Fish Hardcover – May 24, 2016
|New from||Used from|
$0.92 extra savings coupon applied at checkout.
Sorry. You are not eligible for this coupon.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Praise for The Dragon Behind the Glass:
"Voigt relates her continent-hopping adventures as she struggles to make sense of 'a modern paradox: the mass-produced endangered species' . . . . What follows is an immensely satisfying story, full of surprises and suspense.”
—The Wall Street Journal
"The Asian arowana, also known as the dragon fish, ranks among the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, and in this engaging tale of obsession and perserverance, jouranlist Voigt chronicles her effort to study and understand its appeal. . . . Voigt’s passion in pursuing her subject is infectious, as is the self-deprecating humor she injects into her enthralling look at the intersection of science, commercialism, and conservationism."
—Publishers Weekly *Starred review*
"Voigt's passionate narrative perfectly conveys the obsessive world in which [the arowana] swims."
—Publishers Weekly Best Summer Books of 2016
“Not since Candace Millardpublished The River of Doubt has the world of the Amazon, Borneo,Myanmar and other exotic locations been so colorfully portrayed as it is now inEmily Voigt’s The Dragon Behind the Glass…. Fascinating and must-read.”
—Library Journal *Starred review*
"A spirited debut . . .A fresh, lively look at an obsessive desire to own a piece of the wild."
"With the taut suspense of a spy novel, Voigt paints a vivid world of murder, black market deals and habitat destruction surrounding a fish that's considered, ironically, to be a good-luck charm."
"Who would’ve thought the history of a rare fish could be so enthralling? Voigt traces the bizarre story of the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, the Asian “dragon fish,” in a story that reads more like fiction, what with all the murder, smuggling and general intrigue."
—PureWow, "The Ultimate 2016 Summer Book Guide"
"Many a true-crime study could be attributed to an author's honest enthusiasm for weirdness. (I'm thinking of "The Orchid Thief," Susan Orlean's wondrous strange book about an orchid poacher's bizarre search for the rare ghost orchid that grows in the swamplands of Florida's Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.) The Dragon Behind the Glass is the same kind of curiously edifying book."
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“This book starts with a ‘bang’ – a murder to be exact – and the momentum just keeps going from there. The Dragon Behind the Glass is a gripping blend of investigative journalism, science, international crime, travelogue and history….You don't need to know anything about tropical fishes or fishkeeping to be totally riveted by this informative page-turner.”
—Forbes, The 10 Best Conservation And Environment Books Of 2016
About the Author
Emily Voigt is a journalist specializing in science and culture. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, OnEarth Magazine, Mother Jones, and Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing, as well as on the programs Radiolab and This American Life. The recipient of a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, she holds degrees in English Literature and Journalism from Columbia University.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Ahab had a great white whale. Emily Voigt had a great red fish.
Voigt is pursuing the arowana. She first hears the name from a law enforcement who is talking to her about the exotic pet trade in New York. She learns that the arowana is a large fish prized by a certain kind of aquarium owner: usually Asian, male, and rich. The latter is the most necessary feature for many arowana owners, because single individuals are fetching hundreds of thousands of American dollars.
The arowana is the center of an unusual market, often shrouded in secrecy and both threats and acts of violence. Again and again throughout the book, arowana are stolen, smuggled, and fought over, both in the professional and literal sense of the word.
The strangeness of it all is compelling for the reader and Voigt, who ends up pursuing this fish through multiple countries and jungles. She’s accompanied by a memorable set of other people, who I found myself constantly googling to see by the time I reached the second half of the book.
The Dragon Behind the Glass is not an academic work, but it almost could have been. Voigt’s research on the pet trade and the science is flawless. There is lots of solid biology and scientific history.
Voigt provides many thoughtful asides about the pet trade. She considers the pros and cons of collecting from wild populations, CITES listings, and the paradox of the arowana being “a mass produced endangered species”.
While I was originally interested in this book because of its relevance to my own research, I kept reading because it was intertwined with the personal stuff, and her own jungle adventures, in such an entertaining way. Voigt is self aware enough to realize that her interest in this fish is... not normal. There’s a recurring “Am I really doing this and is it worth it?” that I think anyone deeply invested in a project will recognize.
The introduction story is a great opener, the exotic animal trade is as fascinating as it is deadly, and the characters from Aquarium fish fanatics to ichthyologist adventurers populating the book are captivating. It is sometimes hard to believe the truth in the book and other times dismaying - particularly when the book epxlores the environmental impact of fish farming and the bureaucracy of endangered species protection. Where it falters is it's accuracy.
The fixation on the "one wild fish" that is most desirable for arowana owners and poachers is understandably rare in nature and, like any grande pursuit, full of twists and disappointments. The meandering journey, back and forth to different continents, and communication with the colorful characters, some nefarious and others quite one dimensional, is reflective of the reality that I'm sure Voigt experienced pursuing this fish. But, where it lost me was how the objective changed from this one fish, to another rarer fish, to an even more exotic expedition in another completely different part of the world, and with a payoff that is not as thrilling as the journey.
As a nonfiction book that is meant to spark a discussion or open your mind to a culture and world the reader isn't familiar with it is easily five stars. As an adventure with compelling characters and story if tapers off quite sharply towards the end. Overall it is a good read, but I was hoping for more of a fascinating real-life adventure book in a documentary style that has a rewarding conclusion. It just isn't that kind of read.