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

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

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company (8 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145166799X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451667998
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,903,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Science of Monsters Modern audiences do not find dragons frightening. Fascinating as mythical creatures, yes, but terrifying, no. Yet, present them with a story about a virus that can kill a healthy adult in hours and they will have nightmares for weeks. This title explores monsters that have haunted humanity throughout the ages, from Medusa to sea serpents, giants. Full description

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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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