on 10 March 2000
Despite never having seen a snake in the wild, I must admit to sharing Jeremy Seal's fear of snakes. I found elements of this book fascinating and grotesque but others somewhat disappointing. It became clear as the book proceeded that the snakes were something of a crutch to assist the author in writing a fairly conventional travel book. His pursuit of the survivors of bites from the world's deadliest snakes is undoubtedly the strongest part of the book. The irony of Seal finding a survivor of a Black Mamba bite in Banchory is dealt with at length. The book deals with the traditions and role of smakes in four cultures: Africa, India, Australia and the United States of America. The reader gets the impression that Seal spent the greatest amount of time in Africa and the least amount of time in India, the latter area is dealt with in a rather superfical manner. The strange thing about the book is that Seal does not seem to make any real effort to confront his phobia; I don't really blame him for this, but if he is going to write a book about it then I think he could have gone to greater lengths. He encounters many snakes but usually in the safe environments of snake parks or, in a hilarious section on a winter rattle snake hunt in the American south, at times when they present no real threat. I read this book very quickly and learnt a great deal about snakes in their different environments but devoured it in the expectation, ultimately disappointed, that Seal would confront his phobia and have a face to face meeting with something really dangerous. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book for anyone who shares the common, and fully justified, fear of poisonous snakes.
on 16 June 2001
An unexpectantly interesting read. I have no real feeling on snakes either way and really just thought that this was a surreal name given to some travel book. There are however, lots of snakes, strange & unique people and cultural beliefs that usually made me think "I'm glad to be back here in good old blighty". It is none the less a fascinating book.
on 3 January 2000
I bought this book solely on the strength of the author's first book, A Fez of the Heart, which I really enjoyed. The idea of this book did not appeal at all, the title very nearly put me off but I decided to persevere. I am very glad I did.
The author's travels takes him to the US, India, Australia and Africa in search, quite loosely to be honest, of snakebite survivors but probably more to confront his own absolute dread of snakes.
Every part of the story is interwoven with incredible tales of snakes and snakebites and it makes a fascinating, enthralling and very interesting (or should that be arresting?) read. I enjoy Seal's writing style very much and I really hope this book achieves the success it deserves.
on 11 March 2009
If you are a keen herpetologist, this book will not be for you. It will make you scream with anger!
The author who has a phobia of snakes, would have been better off travelling with herpetologists who would have taught him a lot about snakes and who would have problably helped him to get rid of his phobia. Instead he goes and visits some unstable people who do not know anything about snakes, ill treat them and do not have any consideration for their welfare: I was disgusted when I read that in the USA they inject gas into rattlesnakes holes to get them out of their burrows and then kill them... so much ignorance in this world. The worse thing is that Jeremy Seal stands quietly by their side and watches them doing this.... I could not finish the book, these ignorant people do not deserve such a publicity.