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Shadows in the Sea: The Sharks, Skates and Rays Paperback – September 1, 1996

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nothing puts quite the same tingling fear in swimmers, surfers, and divers--especially in the quarter century since Peter Benchley's novel Jaws conquered the bestseller charts--as the thought that a shark might be plying its course somewhere in the murky deep below. Thomas Allen plays on that fear in the opening pages of Shadows in the Sea with a strangely entertaining compendium of shark attacks on humans over the centuries. (The humans get their licks in, however, in the pages that follow, in which Allen recounts the exploits of William Young, an Ahab who chased sharks around the world.) Allen goes on to describe the ways in which scientists have attempted to understand the ways of sharks and their selachian kin, the skates and rays; looks at the place of the shark in the world's folklore and cuisine; and examines the commercial shark-fishing industry. His useful book closes with a species-by-species account of the world's principal shark types, from the 6-inch dogfish to the 20-foot great blue shark. Allen does a fine job of giving his readers an idea of the many ways these frightening but fragile denizens of the sea live their lives--and he provides plenty of anecdotes to disturb a beachgoer's dreams. --Gregory McNamee

From Library Journal

Allen is one of three people who prepared the first edition of Shadows in the Sea in 1963. That work is sometimes considered the "classic" work on sharks. It certainly led the way for other works that include a similar range of information, e.g., Rodney Steel's Sharks of the World (LJ 3/1/86), Facts on File's Sharks (LJ 10/1/87), or Richard Ellis's Book of Sharks (1976). Allen, a former writer for National Geographic, has done well in adding updated information, especially in the areas on shark attacks and uses of sharks; however, he has made far fewer updates to the section on the scientific families, except for the addition of Megachasmidae (Megamouth). He does include rays and skates, which are not covered in the other books, as well as shark legends. Fairly easy reading for the scope of coverage, this book is recommended for secondary schools as well as public and academic libraries. (Illustrations and index not seen.)-Jean E. Crampon, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558215182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558215184
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,179,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Well, what can i say? i LOVE this book. From the first pages, an account of the "rogue shark" off New Jersey in 1916, this book is informative, exciting, and sometimes even endearing...stories of shark fisherman, attacks, and a comprehensive guide to sharks commonly found in North American oceans, i have never read a shark book that is so full of information...READ THIS BOOK!
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Format: Paperback
First published in 1963, Shadows in the Sea has been a popular book about sharks and their relatives, the skates and rays. Thomas Allen tells what he learned from two major contributors to the book. One was Captain William Young, known as "Captain Shark Killer," the other was Mack McCormick, whose shark research is now housed in American Museum of Natural History (New York, USA). According to the author, both men had a deep abiding respect for sharks.

Thomas Allen gives an evenhanded treatment of sharks in Shadows in the Sea. The author divides his subject into four parts: sharks against humans, humans against sharks, sharks as gods or food, and sharks and their relatives as fish. He opens with the famous story of the shark attack in New Jersey in 1916, which formed the basis of the popular Jaws movies. He believes that hunting sharks does not prevent shark attacks. The wrong sharks are usually killed, and the shark population is further depleted. According to Thomas Allen, sharks have a purpose in the ocean ecosystem.

In presenting human-shark history, the author explains the painting by John Singleton Copley, "Brook Watson and the Shark" (1778). The Lord Mayor of London Watson had lost his leg to a shark. Besides including a shark on his family crest, Watson also commissioned Copley to commemorate the event. However, the beast that Copley painted was not a real shark. He imagined the shark as a huge whale possessing a large jaw of sharp teeth. Most European people at that time had little concept of what sharks actually were like.

Thomas Allen recounts how the over-killing of sharks since the 1970s spurred people to save the sharks. In 1991, the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation campaigned against annual shark fishing "derbies" in California.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An absorbing read and excellent for anyone who loves the ocean and all the animals that inhabit it. The information in here is diverse with many stories both fascinating and educational. Would recommend this book to both adults and kids who want to know more about the mysterious life beneath the waves.
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Format: Paperback
This book was given to me in 1975 right after "Jaws" came out and my fascination with sharks started and I still go back and refer to it from time to time. While it was the first of many books on sharks I've read and owned, it's one of my all-time favorites. It opens up with the first 1916 New Jersey shark attack, sharing personal information on the unfortunate victims, all the way up to the capture of the "killer" in Raritan Bay, New Jersey. The shark-attack stories continue on, whether it's in the ocean, a freshwater lake, estuary or river. It's all there and the authors have the knack of re-enacting shark encounters that make you feel like you're on the scene, witnessing every incident in graphic detail (in particular, check out the shark attacks of Barry Wilson and Robert Pamperin). Back when the book was first written, very little was known about sharks and their behavior, so in that sense the information is dated (the book infers that the 1916 attacks were the work of a lone great white, while experts have now suggested a bull shark was the culprit). There were no "cage-diving" expeditions or tagging sharks where their comings and goings can be tracked through science and research, so of course, knowledge of sharks and their behavior has become more prevalent. However, this book is a must-have for any shark lover and their cousins (skates and rays). Thomas B. Allen and Dr. Harold McCormick share their wealth of expertise and wisdom -- the good, the bad and the ugly. Once you start reading the first page, you won't be able to put it down. I can only imagine if the book were written today, how informative and enlightening it would be. That truly would be an even more awesome read than it already is. The only comparable shark expert is Ralph S.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Firstly, a disclaimer: I did not buy this book from Amazon and I have not read the updated/later editions. I actually read the original way back in 1966, at the age of 14 [at which point I'd already witnessed one fatal shark attack - I've subsequently witnessed another fatal attack and several non-fatal ones. I've also spent a ton of time at sea, observing sharks, fishing for (and capturing) sharks, often swimming with sharks - not always volitionally - and even hanging out with a cousin who was one of the pioneers of "shark feeding" as an attraction]. Despite all the scientific study which followed the original publication of the book, particularly in the wake of "Jaws", I actually found that the original of "Shadows" ("SitS") remained by far the most accurate depiction of sharks (at least so far as it compared with my personal experience of them), tho' it was often at odds with the "official wisdom" at any given moment. That is because shark science, not unlike "climate change" science, tends to inspire rather different perceptions of the available information, depending on the mood of the moment and the inclinations of the reader (e.g., sharks are bad and ravenous maneaters - the legacy of "Jaws", then sharks are misunderstood, and, increasingly, sharks are good and man is bad - cf: "The Coming Ice Age" and "The Cooling" vs. "An Inconvenient Truth", all relying on much the same data and even relying on many of the same commentators, but each partaking of a different Zeitgeist). The original of "SitS" was a good synthesis of science and practical experience of sharks, with a minimum of distorting ideology.Read more ›
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