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Shark (Reaktion Books - Animal)

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1861893253
ISBN-10: 1861893256
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Editorial Reviews


"Crawford explains well the variety (454 species) and wondrous biology of sharks (the great white has electrical sensors that can detect a heartbeat); traces sharks nicely through myth and fiction, holding in view Moby-Dick, Jaws and the novels of Hemingway; and outlines the politics of aquaria and shark-fin soup. . . . The pictures are breathtaking, too."


"Shark is a completely perfect book about sharks — ogle that elegant cover and unadorned title, both as sleek as their subject — limpidly written by Dean Crawford and speckled with striking photos and artwork."
(Chris Garcia Austin 360)

"A beautiful book about sharks? Yes, Shark, by Dean Crawford is one of a series of gorgeous, small format animal tomes by British publisher Reaktion Books. This 150-page shark primer has lovely color plates on almost every page of art-quality stock, and the writing is good, too. . . Crawford's the Alan Dershowitz of the finny deep. I loved this book."

(Alex Beam Boston Globe)

"Rigorously researched and scholarly, yet highly accessible and entertaining, Shark urges us to see the incredibly sophisticated animal behind the terrifying caricature that society has created."
(Tri-City News)

About the Author

Dean Crawford is visiting associate professor of English at Vassar College and is also the author of The Lay of the Land.


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Product Details

  • Series: Reaktion Books - Animal
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861893256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861893253
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By lyndonbrecht TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 12, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is one of the better books in a good series about animals. It is not a natural history, although it includes a good deal of information about shark evolution, physiology, feeding and other aspects of the animal.

The author is a very good writer, with a wry sense of humor that contributes to making this an entertaining read. He isn't a fierce advocate for sharks, but his fascination with them comes through.

For me, the most interesting section was the way sharks are portrayed in films and the arts--most often as a malevolent force of nature. Crawford covers the surge in interest in sharks following the movie Jaws, resulting in baleful impact on shark populations. He describes shark finning and other use of sharks, and one can be almost ashamed of being human, in inflicting injury and wasting most of the animal, all for a luxury food. The future of sharks does not look very good.

Still, the book gave me a much better feel for the incredible variety of sharks. Some of them are wonderfully peculiar.
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Format: Paperback
Sharks have had bad press. With this book, they finally have a skillful P.R. agent working for them. Dean Crawford loves sharks and wants us to like and help protect them. He asserts that sharks are merely "fish going about their business of prowling for and gobbling other fish life."

Let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed *Shark* - the grace and humor with which it's written and the details, how, for example, the membranes of a shark's eye operate while feeding and that some feed on "baby" elephant seals. I was taken aback that Dean, trying to evoke sympathy for the shark, came up, fully self-conscious, I'm certain, with the word "baby" instead of "young" seals. He must have figured, if you read on after that, you're ripe to take sharks to heart. Then follows the picture and the horrible details of what happens to sharks when their fins are harvested for food. Who knew? Makes me want to become an activist.

And who knew that all current species of sharks date back to the Jurassic age? Anyone interested in dinosaurs and their classifications would want to latch on to that fact. And who knew, certainly not I, that there are 450 species of sharks, most totally charming and innocuous, all endangered, "fish going about their business?" Only the GREAT WHITE is the TYRANNASAURUS REX of sharks, and, like Tyrannsaurus Rex, can't be blamed for being a carnivore.

Even I, who had no particular affinity for sharks, after finishing this book, care deeply about them, though, I have to admit, not as deeply as Dean Crawford, who clearly adores them. Most sharks are pretty homely. Bullhead sharks, at least from their picture, have faces only their mothers and Dean Crawford could love.
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Format: Paperback
SHARK is an encyclopedic study of a fascinating animal. Dean Crawford is a tireless (and, evidently, fearless) researcher as well as an elegant writer, and he has written a book that should delight anyone interested in animals in general or in the survival of species essential for the survival of our own.

This book taught me a great deal about sharks, about their amazing variety, about their extraordinary longevity. Sharks were old before the first dinosaur was a twinkle in nature's eye. In the world of the survival of the fittest, they are just that.

But that's only the beginning of what I took away from this book. Besides its virtues as a readable biological study, SHARK is also an incisive examination of how humans demonize other species. One work of fiction and a handful of incidents so rare as to flirt with freakishness have created an apparition: a monster, a killing machine. Statistics don't bear this hallucination out. Through another source I have learned that I am more likely to be killed by a blue jay than I am by a shark.

The difference is that no one yet written a best-selling book or movie called BEAK. The equivalent book about sharks (JAWS), it seems, generated much more than sales. It managed to create a new species, one that terrifies the imagination even though its connections to reality are tenuous at best.

In the end Crawford is a conservationist as well as a scholar. His arguments for some limits on the current slaughter of sharks or all shapes and kinds (largely for their fins) are compelling. As is usually the case, the extermination of a species often has appalling ramifications for other species, and that includes Homo Sapiens.
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