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Monster of God: The Man-eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind Paperback – June 2, 2005
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Quammen does an excellent job of covering just about any aspect you might wish to learn about animals that occasionally dine on man. Aspects of ecology are very well covered, introducing the reader to many key concepts in ecology (particularly as they relate to these creatures), such as the terms alpha predator, keystone species, and trophic cascades, showing that for a healty ecosystem - including healthy plants and prey animals - the presence of a viable population of predator is crucial. The education this book gave me on ecology was quite remarkable, with the author going into very readable detail on many issues and very interestingly their history as well, showing some of the personalities behind their conception. The individual biology and paleontology of each of the focus species in this book are well covered, as well as that of close and more distant relations, covering everything from the rise and fall of sabertooth mammals (feline and otherwise) to the spread of the tiger species throughout Asia (and its later evolution into various subspecies).Read more ›
Quammen focuses on four predators in this account - the Asian lion, the crocodile, bears in Romania and "Siberian" tigers. Surrounded by humans and their legends and lifestyles, this quartette symbolises our conflicting views of animals with reputations as "man-eaters". Disdaining accusations of "sexist" or other cultural labels surrounding his terms, Quamman confronts us with the realities of human-predator interactions. Lions, which once roamed from Atlantic Europe to Eastern Asia, have been pushed into meagre enclaves outside of Africa. They, along with the crocodiles, bears and Amur tigers are surrounded by human neighbours. Quammen explains that the long-term human residents, the Mahldari in India, Aborigines of Australia, the Romanian shepherds and Ugede of Eastern Russia have formed accomodating
relationships with their proximate predator populations. The oft-repeated phrase is "don't bother them and they won't bother you".
Changes in political and economic forces, Quammen contends, bring changes to those relationships.Read more ›
This one has potential: exploring the habitats of "man-eating" predators, the mythology surrounding them, their place in human psychology, the struggle to preserve them and the questions in that struggle. It could be a fascinating book, and it is pretty darn good.
Quammen looks at the Asiatic Lion, which plays a prominent role in the Bible and the rest of ancient European and Near-Eastern culture. But today it only remains in a small and shrinking forest in western India. Quammen goes there and reports on the lifestyles of the people who live in and around that forest, and the chances for the lion's survival.
Then he moves to the saltwater crocodile, especially in Australia. Here he does a good job exploring the economic significance of the crocodile and the leather industry, and also on the relations of various aboriginal groups to the crocodile. He does not tell us much about the Australian government's role in conservation, although that must be signficant as well.
Next he turns to the grizzlies of Romania, called brown bears everywhere outside of North America. He gives a decent history of their popularity in Yellowstone and Glacier parks, and a great coverage of their place in Romanian forest management, sport hunting, and shepherding. Of course Ceaucescu forms the constant background to the story of the bears in Romania.
Finally he goes to the Russian Far East, around Vladivostok, to learn about the situation of the Siberian Tiger. (Not the white-tiger mutants in zoos.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My first Quammen book and now I'm hungry for more. He digs deep into history, myth, folklore, and gets into his own field work to produce this masterwork.Published 10 months ago by Greg
David Quammen is a fantastic nature writer. Here he discusses man's relationship with alpha predators, particularly those that are known to eat humans. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Matthew Reid
This is a prime example of an invidious and mendacious genre-- tabloid ecology. The author jets around to exotic locales and writes cleverly about the gory details of human... Read morePublished 12 months ago by A Customer
I recently reread this book, and had forgotten how good it is. Note the title reads "In the Jungles of History and the Mind. Read morePublished 16 months ago by lyndonbrecht
Excellent book. As always Quammen delivers with fluid prose, engaging anecdotes, and thought provoking analysis. Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by Kindle Customer