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The Science of Monsters: The Origins of the Creatures We Love to Fear [Kindle Edition]

Matt Kaplan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £11.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

We all know “there’s no such thing as monsters,” but our imaginations tell us otherwise. From the mythical beasts of ancient Greece to the hormonal vampires of the Twilight saga, monsters have captivated us for millennia. Matt Kaplan, a noted science journalist and monster-myth enthusiast, employs an entertaining mix of cutting-edge research and a love of lore to explore the history behind these fantastical fictions and our hardwired obsession with things that go bump in the night.

Ranging across history, Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite tackles the enduring questions that arise on the frontier between fantasy and reality. What caused ancient Minoans to create the tale of the Minotaur and its subterranean maze? Did dragons really exist? What inspired the creation of vampires and werewolves, and why are we so drawn to them?

With the eye of a journalist and the voice of a storyteller, Kaplan takes readers to the forefront of science, where our favorite figures of horror may find real-life validation. Does the legendary Kraken, a squid of epic proportions, really roam the deep? Are we close to making Jurassic Park a reality by replicating a dinosaur from fossilized DNA? As our fears evolve, so do our monsters, and Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite charts the rise of the ultimate beasts, humans themselves.

Product Description


"A wonderful read for movie and history buffs that will leave you believing monsters are real!"--John Carls, Producer of "Where the Wild Things Are"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5588 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00F6I5X12
  • Publisher: Scribner (23 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IL4W9Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #251,222 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Matt Kaplan's "Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters" is an engaging, lightweight survey of the origins of various mythical monsters like the Minotaur, Rok, Medusa, dragons, demons, vampires, ghosts, spirits and others. This is not a book about crytpozoology, and scarcely a word is said of Nessie, Bigfoor, Yeti or other modern legends. Instead, Kaplan's book is a fun romp with lots of speculation about how beasts as diverse as fire-breathing dragons and Frankenstein's Monster came to occupy a place in the mythic imagination. For better or worse, the book is a bit like a long and informative magazine article, not a scholarly work.

For meatier entries in the same genre, you might want to take a look at Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend (a thorough explanation of the origins of various vampire legends); When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth (a fascinating book about the origins and uses of myths); and The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times (New in Paper) (how fossils inspired the Greek and Roman myths of mighty monsters).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Viewpoint 25 Nov. 2012
While most books on monsters and mythology concentrate on the theology or psychology underpinning the creatures, this book takes a different stance. It looks at individual monsters and their myths and postulates on the basis of such tales. I have read and own many books on mythology and monsters. I found this book took the reader in several new directions as to the foundations of these legends. Moreover, the science presented including sections on geology, genetics and medicine was presented in a readily accessible manner that also was fun and engaging to read. The breadth of monsters covered is quite varied from ancient giant beasts and sea monsters to modern monsters such as aliens and vampires. In particular, I found the chapter on sea monsters unique in the field. A good addition to the library of anyone with an interest in popular science or mythology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What did monsters ever do for us? 23 Nov. 2012
By Anchik
'Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite' will certainly provide the reader with great conversational material! The author presents and weighs up explanations for how visualisations of various legendary fear-inducing monsters (e.g the Minotaur and dragons) have originated and infiltrated people's coscience throughout history. Matt Kaplan's discussions are full of logical, phychological and scientific reasonings, interspersed with some humorous remarks. This book is an easy and fun read, is not remotely restrictive to any audience and would make a great present. It should be noted that buyers should not expect a scholarly thesis; the book should be purchased for entertainment rather than for educational purposes, although it certainly imparts much fascinating information, particularly relating to palaeontology - Matt Kaplan's specialisation, onto the reader.
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