The Snake Charmer: A Life and Death in Pursuit of Knowledge Kindle Edition
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- Highlight, take notes, and search in the book
- Length: 272 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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- Age Level: 13 - 99
- Grade Level: 8 - 17
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B0017SUZ9U
- Publisher : Hachette Books (June 3, 2008)
- Publication date : June 3, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 1058 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 272 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #765,065 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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I have respect for anyone who completes their PhD in America today. Joe was determined and succeeded at that and much more, as author James provides in detail throughout the book. Are any of us perfect or complete at age 38? I feel sympathy for Joe's family and friends, a promising life cut short by a mistake. When I was a teen, I grabbed a small snake that darted into a grass blind, it was a juvenile bull but could have been a timber rattler. This book inspired me to be a better steward of our Earth's animals. I plan to read more non fiction books by Jamie soon.
In 2001, Slowinski led an expedition of biologists and botanists as they traveled through the jungles of Burma. It was there that he was bitten by a many-banded krait, the most deadly snake in Asia and one of the most deadly snakes in the world. A world away from any kind of hospital or clinic, Slowinski knew that his chances of survival were slim. It was this quote, provided by Dr. Mohler, which gave me an interest in reading the book:
"As his friends gathered around, Joe calmly explained what was happening to him. No one in the world knew more about the venom of Bungarus multicinctus than Joe Slowinski. He described the effects of a slowly deepening paralysis: The snake's venom works on several different parts of the nervous system simultaneously, blocking the nerve impulses that transmit instructions to the muscles, including those required to maintain life. There will be no pain, he told them. "First my eyelids will drop; I won't be able to hold them up." Soon he would lose the ability to speak and move his limbs, he said. Within a few hours, his respiratory system would shut down: The paralyzed central nervous system would be unable to instruct the diaphragm to breathe, causing a swift death by asphyxiation...
"As the morning wore on, Joe's physical condition deteriorated precisely as he had predicted it would. In stark contrast to the hysteria that prevailed after Joe was bitten by the cobra when he was filming with the National Geographic team, the scene at the schoolhouse in Rat Baw was wonderfully calm, even solemn. Joe lay down on his sleeping bag in his tent, with Moe Flannery and Guin Wogan lying next to him to provide human warmth and comfort. The men quietly gathered nearby. Joe asked someone to find an Ace bandage he could wrap around his right forearm to slow the traffic of blood and lymph in his hand, though by now the toxin had passed throughout his body. There was nothing more to be done except wait and see how serious the bite was."
Written by Jamie James, The Snake Charmer is a good and interesting account of the life of this man. He is a man who is hard to like--he was brash and immature and obnoxious; he was committed to understanding nature through a Darwinian lens and had only venom for creationists. Yet he was a man who loved God's creatures and who fought to understand and preserve them. Woven into the book are many interesting facts about some of God's least-understand and most-feared creatures. This book is an easy read and a perfect selection for a warm summer day outdoors.
The second one, an equally thrilling one, is a vivid description of Burma; the culture, the government, the people, the cities, and the trails the Slowinski expedition took on to Hkakabo Razi National Park in the northern park of the country; the eastern edge of the Himalayas; perhaps can also be called the Yosemite or the Yellowstone or the Denali of Burma. Maybe I shouldn't brag too much anymore that I really like hiking after getting the written exposure of the kind of trail the Slowinski team took on that was described as setting "a new standard of misery" considering its "muddy trails, bad food, squalid campsites, a deep river of fine, clinging clay mud, malarial mosquitos and sharp-biting sandflies swirled in tormenting clouds; legions of thirsty leeches lurked in every dank, dark recess" (p.5). James' description of the country's history, landscape and the northern tribal people is highly enjoyable. I understand why he calls Burma a "beautiful, unhappy" land. The fact it has a share in the Himalaya range itself with its 19,295-ft Hkakabo Razi summit qualifies it to be classified as beautiful (p.112). It is an unhappy land, not because of poverty per-se, but because of the country's mismanagement under the military junta (p.118-119). After learning about his assessment about Burma, it intrigues me to hear what he thinks of Bali and Indonesia in general since it sounds like James lives in Bali, at least the time he wrote the book when he noted, "...after I returned home to Bali" (p.246).
The biography of Joe Slowinski itself is a touching account of a brilliant yet careless man with a passion for nature, coming from a seemingly humble, hard-working all-American family, though sadly not a happy one. It struck me to read about the political wrangling in high places in the science world as the personal ambition and contention to be the best of the best turned into an extreme ugliness; though Joe's case against Alan Rabinowitz didn't turn into one. The height of a narcissistic spirit can be seen in the case of Edward Cope, belonging to the Anthropometric society, "who basically wanted to study why they were so smart... Before his death, Cope had proposed that he himself be declared the type specimen for Homo Sapiens - the only known species on earth that has no holotype" (p.151).
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Snake Charmer." It is educational, touching, humane, and entertaining; an excellent choice for summer reading materials.