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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks Hardcover – 14 Jun 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (14 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375425128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375425127
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 3.1 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,636,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is "the" shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it."
--Carl Safina, author of "Song for the Blue""Ocean" and "The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
"

"In this fascinating and meticulously reported book, Juliet Eilperin crisscrosses the globe, on the trail of one of the most mysterious creatures. She illuminates not only the hidden nature of the seas, but also the societies whose survival depend on them."
--David Grann, author of "The Lost City of Z"

"Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is "the" shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it."
--Carl Safina, author of "Song for the Blue" Ocean and "The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World"



"For this inclusive and important book, Eilperin traveled around the world to find people who study, fish for, dive with, venerate, or have been attacked by sharks . . . . [she] discusses many others who have brought sharks into human consciousness--Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and Jacques Cousteau; to this list, we must now add Eilperin herself."
--Richard Ellis, "The American Scholar"
" "
"More books probably have been written about sharks than about any other creatures that live in the sea, so when I opened this one I was skeptical: What could it possibly add? A great deal, it turns out . . . Eilperin circles the world in pursuit of sharks and the people who love and hate them . . . whether they are killers or protectors, she tells their stories with fairness and understanding. I forgot the time as I immersed myself in the world of sharks. Whether you've never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you."
--Callum Roberts, "The Washington Post"
"Eilperin investigates the greatest threats to sharks: the shark fin trade and the ecological and economic forces affecting shark populations . . . The book is certainly timely. And "Demon Fish" does the subject justice."
--David McGuire, "San Francisco Chronicle"
" "
"Poised to be one of the summer's most compelling beach reads."
--Rachel Syme, NPR.org
"In this wide-ranging natural history of shark-human relations, the author recounts frank interviews with an entertaining cast of scientists, fishermen, wholesalers, chefs, and eco-tour operators, all of whom have a stake in the survival of the oceans' top predators. She also gets into the water with the sharks. For readers who like passionate investigative reporting."
--Rick Roche, "Booklist"
"In this fascinating and meticulously reported book, Juliet Eilperin crisscrosses the globe, on the trail of one of the most mysterious creatures. She illuminates not only the hidden nature of the seas, but also the societies whose survival depend on them."
--David Grann, author of "The Lost City of Z"
"Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is "the" shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it."
--Carl Safina, author of "Song for the Blue" Ocean and "The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World"

For this inclusive and important book, Eilperin traveled around the world to find people who study, fish for, dive with, venerate, or have been attacked by sharks . . . . [she] discusses many others who have brought sharks into human consciousness Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and Jacques Cousteau; to this list, we must now add Eilperin herself.
Richard Ellis, "The American Scholar"
""
More books probably have been written about sharks than about any other creatures that live in the sea, so when I opened this one I was skeptical: What could it possibly add? A great deal, it turns out . . . Eilperin circles the world in pursuit of sharks and the people who love and hate them . . . whether they are killers or protectors, she tells their stories with fairness and understanding. I forgot the time as I immersed myself in the world of sharks. Whether you ve never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you.
Callum Roberts, "The Washington Post"
Eilperin investigates the greatest threats to sharks: the shark fin trade and the ecological and economic forces affecting shark populations . . . The book is certainly timely. And "Demon Fish" does the subject justice.
David McGuire, "San Francisco Chronicle"
""
Poised to be one of the summer s most compelling beach reads.
Rachel Syme, NPR.org
In this wide-ranging natural history of shark-human relations, the author recounts frank interviews with an entertaining cast of scientists, fishermen, wholesalers, chefs, and eco-tour operators, all of whom have a stake in the survival of the oceans top predators. She also gets into the water with the sharks. For readers who like passionate investigative reporting.
Rick Roche, "Booklist"
In this fascinating and meticulously reported book, Juliet Eilperin crisscrosses the globe, on the trail of one of the most mysterious creatures. She illuminates not only the hidden nature of the seas, but also the societies whose survival depend on them.
David Grann, author of "The Lost City of Z"
Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is "the" shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it.
Carl Safina, author of "Song for the Blue" Ocean and "The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World""

About the Author

Juliet Eilperin" "is the national environmental reporter for "The Washington Post, " where she writes about science, policy, and politics in areas ranging from climate change to oceans. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives with her family in Washington, D.C.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not finished reading this yet but it is truly a wonderful book.

Gives a really good account of how people all over the world have sharks as part of their folklore and founding fathers stories.
Also how the exploitation of the Western/developed worlds is having such a devastating effect on these peoples cultures not just through overfishing and persecution of sharks but by bringing currency in to their life's thus making everything of an intrinsic value as opposed to cultural.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in sharks or how culture is influenced by "other worldly beings"

Brilliant read
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Format: Paperback
Eilperin conducts a range of competent investigations that span the planet. She checks out shark callers in New Ireland, the shark-fin soup markets of Hong Kong, the science of tracking sharks with electronic sensors, the evolution of shark folklore, the impact of shark decimation on the globe's food chain, and the rise of shark tourism operations, like Kim Maclean's Shark Lady Adventures for viewing South Africa's great whites. It's always good, detail-oriented journalism, the kind of thing that can make a real difference in public opinion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x921030cc) out of 5 stars 72 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92a86094) out of 5 stars A must-read book for anyone interested in the world around us 9 Jun. 2011
By Laura Probst - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sharks are not the best ambassadors for their own survival. The original sea monsters of yore, they are not cute and cuddly, warm and fuzzy. And while they may be photogenic, it's not in an "Aww" kind of way. It's more akin to an "Aaah!" So while other animals imperiled by man's actions, such as the playful otter and friendly dolphin, the majestic whale and the placid turtle, endear themselves to humans and thus find themselves saved from utter destruction, it wasn't until recently that anyone started giving a damn about the horrible, deadly, sinister, man-eating shark and the fact that we've been killing them off indiscriminately since we discovered their existence a few hundred years ago. Many cultures, both today and in the past, might say the only good shark is a dead shark. Well, as some individuals and countries are coming to find out, that statement is the biggest piece of dumb-ass logic anyone has ever thought up.

We've so impacted the shark's environment, with our industries, our pollution, our fishing, that not only have several species of shark declined in population by anywhere from 90 to 99%, those sharks being caught today are smaller than their counterparts of even just a hundred years ago. Sharks do not rebound quickly; though some species give birth to large litters, many species take years to mature and only reproduce a limited number of times in their life--most of the time the litters they produce are small, with only one or two pups per birth. While we've begun to--finally--set aside protected waters, those areas cover only a fraction of the shark's territory and even then, some of the protections contain loopholes which still allow sharks to be fished. The truth is, we still know very little about these creatures, who've managed to stick around this planet for nearly 425 million years. That's 425 *million* years, people. These creatures, who've evolved into some of the most perfectly, if occasionally oddly, designed animals on the planet, have been around since before the dinosaurs and have even contributed to our own evolution (the bones of our inner ear, the way we swallow and talk due to muscles and cranial nerves which are the same as those which move a shark's gills), are still decried as man-eating monsters who deserve no pity. Yet these monsters are being systematically wiped out by us, humans, a predator more devastating, more mercenary, more cruel than any shark on this planet.

Juliet Eilperin's book is a well-researched investigation of the different ways in which we've poached, killed, decimated and otherwise pillaged the world's oceans of this apex predator, and the repercussions various governments and peoples have reaped as a result, in the form of depleted fish stocks, depressed economies, not to mention lost tribal traditions and vanishing cultural heritages. From the travails of Mark "the Shark" Quaratiano, who runs a fishing charter in Miami and complains that instead of sticking his hand in the water and pulling out a shark from the infested waters, he now has to work for several hours before he's able to catch a single shark for his macho-men, testosterone-boosting weenie clients (aww, poor baby), to the shark callers of Papua New Guinea, who are losing their faith-based tradition, which has sustained their native culture through colonization and Christian missionary proselytizing, due to the simple fact that the sharks of their islands have disappeared due to overfishing. Not the overfishing of prey fish, although that's played a part; no, overfishing of the sharks themselves. Which brings us to the most horrendous activity responsible for the decline of the shark: Finning. The practice of hauling a shark on board, slicing the pectoral and dorsal fins off the animal and tossing it, often while still alive, back in the water, to drown as it sinks to the ocean floor. Millions of sharks each year are killed in this manner, to supply one industry, shark's fin soup. And yet, as an ingredient, shark's fin adds nothing to the soup; it's a thin, noodle-like ribbon of cartilage which adds no flavor, only prestige to a dish which was once served only to a select few but now, with the rise of the Chinese middle class, is consumed at any and every occasion where such prestige is desired. Eilperin follows the trail of this world-wide trade, from the poor fishermen who are simply following the money even as they realize how the sharks have disappeared from their fishing grounds, to the secretive auction houses, where fins are sorted and sold with a minimum of words and a maximum of dollars and yen exchanged. The author details her travels around the world, to the different hotspots of shark fishing as well as shark protection and education, in a vivid, yet rational voice; her book is a clear-eyed dissection of our legacy towards the elasmobranch family (that's the shark, skate and ray family for those who are not selachophiles [shark lovers, a word I just made up]), backed up by sound scientific data and in-depth research. Part travelogue, part scientific journal, this book is a lively and fascinating look at how various cultures relate to this ocean predator, often in a surprising and (despite how I might've made it sound) sometimes positive way.

I've been a shark lover for as long as I can remember. It's been a love tempered by an equal measure of fear; because I know some sharks like shallow, murky water, growing up in Florida, I never went past my ankles (if I could help it) whenever we spent a day at the beach. I'd love to go cage diving in South Africa and see a great white up close; even though I know it creates a Pavlovian response, I'd still like to visit a shark feeding operation in Bimini, wear a mesh suit and sit in the middle of a feeding frenzy. Yet, when I was younger, I was scared of even swimming in the pool by myself, because of the fear of what might come up from the bottom of the deep end. (Yes, I realize I was swimming in a chlorinated pool and that there was no creature, of any sort, waiting in the deep end; psychological fears are hard to overcome, no matter what kind of logic you throw at them.) I still enjoy Jaws, even though I scream at the TV screen in frustration for the erroneous stereotype it puts forth; I've watched The Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week festival since it's inception, even though, as the years went on, I got bored with many of the programs as they didn't teach me anything I didn't already know. So, as you might've guessed, this book appealed to me at a basic level. However, if you've never given sharks a second thought; if you've seen Jaws and shuddered but never really desired to know any more about those creatures than what was portrayed in the movie; even if you think sharks are evil incarnate and deserve to be killed, I urge each and every one of you to pick up this book and read it. Sharks may not be endearing to the masses, but upon completing Demon Fish I dare you not to feel some sympathy and distress over how we've treated a creature who, quite frankly, is just trying to live on this planet, the same as us. The story of sharks is a story about us, in the long run, and how we choose to interact with the creatures who share our space.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x925b14c8) out of 5 stars Stunning Numbers, To Say the Least 17 May 2011
By John Galluzzo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For some reason, it's a message that isn't getting through: we're killing our oceans. We fish certain stocks to unsustainability, move onto the next species, clean the ocean of that one, and move onto the next. The past century of technological advances in fishing have led to the death of our oceans.

Yet, lost in all of the drama of plunging edible fish stocks have been the apex predators. While last ditch efforts may rebuild popoulations of cod, herring and other fish, the plight of sharks may not be reversible. And the numbers are simply stunning in some cases: one species of hammerhead shark is currently at 1% of its historic population, and more monster shark fishing tournaments are being scheduled every day.

Author Juliet Eilperin brings us through what it is about sharks that makes us ignore their needs, the unwavering ignorance that allows us to remain blind to their problems, and our knee-jerk fears of the animal, traceable back to one 1970s summer blockbuster film. Demon Fish examines the relationship between man and shark, and implores us to act on their behalf.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9234fe7c) out of 5 stars Of Sharks And Sharkers 14 Jun. 2011
By Louis N. Gruber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sharks were once worshipped as deities, later feared and loathed, still later hunted to the brink of extinction. Which brings us to the present time, with shark populations in precipitious decline. People tend to think of sharks in terms of their rare but deadly attacks on humans, but they are also an important part of the ecology of the oceans, and their loss will bring irreparable harm.

Written in chatty, journalistic style, reading Demon Fish is like watching multiple episodes of Sixty Minutes, with visits to shark callers in Papua New Guinea, shark fin traders in Hong Kong, shark fishermen, and activists of all kinds trying to save the sharks. Interesting tidbits about the biology of sharks alternate with interviews, skipping from one country and continent to another, stopping in at shark auctions, to quaint shops with dried shark fins in jars, to committees for the sharkers and other committees for shark conservation. Plus, everything you ever wanted to know about shark's fin soup.

And there's the problem with this book. Too much, too scattered, and too preachy. Author Juliet Eilperin maintains the same chatty style chapter after long chapter, but left this reader skimming toward the end of the book. The material about sharks themselves was fascinating, but there wasn't enough of it to hold this reader's interest. If you're obsessed with saving the oceanic environment you will probably like this book, but it's not my favorite. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9234fa2c) out of 5 stars 3.5 stars 24 May 2011
By E. Kennen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Based on the back cover, I was expecting a sweeping anthropological examination of the complex relationship between man and shark. Based on the title, I was expecting the book to have a high degree of passion - perhaps even sensationalism. Instead I got... something that is not easy to describe. A detailed, yet somewhat dry look at the ancient, disappearing art of "shark calling" segues into a detailed, yet choppy look at the shark fin soup industry which segues into a hodge-potched and mostly basic look at the research of shark scientists around the world, along with repeated reminders that sharks are in critical trouble and must be saved.

I like sharks (you know, in theory; far, far away from me, or separated by a thick sheet of glass). I agree with all of Eilperin's conclusions (that sharks are worth saving, that shark fishing should be more regulated; that it needs to be done on a global scale). But I must sadly admit that she makes a poor case for the sharks, repeatedly stating her conclusions, while writing WHY sharks are important to the ecosystem (and therefore to us) only at the very end... and only in a very fleeting manner. While there is some good information and occasionally entertaining story-telling, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the order of the book or, in fact, why Eilperin chooses to convey some information and not address other things.

Sharks ARE evolutionarily complex and fascinating creatures. As apex predators, they have an outsized effect on their environment. They are worth studying - and conserving. They are also worth a book that does them justice. Alas, this one is not it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9234fa80) out of 5 stars It'll Make You Love and Respect Sharks 20 Dec. 2011
By Alex C. Telander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you're reading this, chances are you have some sort of fear of sharks . . . and maybe by discovering what Demon Fish is about, you will confront these fears, learn more about these incredible fish, and in turn come to respect them as the amazing creatures that they are. Well, if there was a book that could help you with that, Demon Fish is certainly it.

Juliet Eilperin works for the Washington Post. Her first book was on politics, Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives, but in April of 2004 she covered the environment for the national desk, reporting on science, climate change, and the oceans. If there were a comprehensive biography of the ancient, long-lived fish known as the shark, Demon Fish would qualify. Eilperin begins with an introduction of her first meeting with these majestic yet powerful and terrifying creatures, and how she grew to appreciate them. She tells the story of the World-Famous Shark Callers found on the island of Papua New Guinea, who have been hunting these fish for centuries with a ritualistic method that involves calling the shark, then capturing it; once killed every part of the fish is used in some way. But Shark Calling is a dying art, especially when there are other companies that use more modern technology to deplete the nearby shark populations.

Eilperin's chapter on "An Ancient Fish" presents a full history of the shark, starting long ago during the time of the dinosaurs when they were massive creatures feared by just about everything beneath the waves (and above no doubt), to the smaller but no less frightening versions of today. The shark is in fact one of the oldest, longest living creatures on the planet, and now has over four hundred species. Eilperin travels the world, visiting and working with different people who interact with sharks in different ways: whether it's fishing for them, taking tourists out to see them and attempt to catch them, or tagging and conserving and protecting them however they can. She devotes a significant portion of the book to the shark fin industry, which is the biggest threat to this fish, as the restaurants of Asia (as well as many others around the world) continue to serve shark fin soup, even though it doesn't taste of much - as Eilperin makes clear - but is a cultural expectation, not just in Asian restaurants but expected to be served at weddings as a sign of the bride's family's noble standing.

Demon Fish doesn't attempt to convince or convert or proselytize on the threatened numbers and species of shark around the world; Eilperin just presents the facts and realities for what they are in many different places across the globe. It is clear that things are not fine with this ancient fish, and when the likes of Jaws and other similar stories continue to perpetuate this fear of a gravely misunderstood creature, Demon Fish does an excellent job of informing and educating, making one realize at the end that the shark is simply another one of the incredibly unique animals populating this planet and has just as much right to live and breed and exist as all the others do, including the many humans who fear it.

Originally written on September 23, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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