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Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in…

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the…

by David Quammen

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
DNF on account of all the racism. ( )
  Jeeps | Jul 26, 2018 |
For a start, an excellent bibliography for anyone interested in the subject.

My interest was in Amur tigers but I couldn't help but continue reading about the other alpha predators Quammen chronicles--brown bears, Komodo dragons, lions, great white sharks….

I enjoyed the combination of myth, history and first-person adventure, and found the author's insights and musings very thought-provoking--for example, his idea that perhaps the eradication of these alpha predators is a predictable part of the colonization process (where newcomers to a geography feel the need to exterminate those elements they find fearful).

In short, the book is thoughtful and while some biological details are included, offers a wider scope of information than one usually finds in works on man-eaters. It's not just Jim Corbett-type tales (which I grew up on and still love to read), but Quammen's ruminations on why, for example, Beowulf "hits harder" than other tales--a chapter I wish I had read back in college while reading this Old English poem--that turned this book into a page-turner for me (which frankly I did not expect it to be beyond the chapter on tigers). Well done! ( )
1 vote pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
I did not find the book to live up to the page 3 declaration “Among the earliest forms of human self-awareness was the awareness of being meat” until the stories of monster-slaying in human stories [pp. 254 et seq.]. The book proves to be a collection of the author’s eclectic travels – interesting, but less philosophic generally than I had anticipated (save for the role of Economics on pp. 166 – 67.
  Mark-S | Jan 18, 2015 |
Possibly a very important book addressing the loss of species; but I found the author's emphasis on his personal saga not at all interesting.
  2wonderY | Dec 5, 2014 |
I enjoyed Quammen's Spillover more than this book, but that's not to say this wasn't an interesting read too. In a similar way to Spillover, Quammen takes the reader on a tour of the world. He doesn't just report on predators from afar, but goes to get close up and personal with them, and with the people who've really spent time in their environment. It's still a little difficult to believe he could understand these animals or even that way of life with such short exposures, but he did his research and spoke to the people who did know, which puts him ahead of people who theorise from afar.

What I liked particularly about this one was that he pulled in threads of literature, history, sociology... all kinds of ways of understanding the complex impact alpha predators have on us, and the impact we have on them. It's obviously very human-centric still: all of these alpha predators have been impacted by human encroachment on their territory. I don't know if there's any alpha predator in the world not feeling human pressures, but the relationship seemed particularly close/fraught here, with the animals Quammen picked.

It's a bit of a dense read, but still interesting. ( )
  shanaqui | Aug 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
''In wildness is the preservation of the world,'' Henry David Thoreau famously said, not knowing the half of it. David Quammen's splendid book ''Monster of God'' constitutes an expansion and gloss on Thoreau's prophetic contention, achieved through an artful, focused account of contemporary efforts to secure preservation, in the wild, of some of the most magnificently fearsome creatures on earth -- the large-bodied carnivores, man-eaters (lions, tigers, Carpathian brown bears, giant crocodiles), a group Quammen designates ''alpha predators.'' The stories he presents contain rich detail and vivid anecdotes of adventure, and they provide skillful capsulizations of the politics, economics, cultural history and ecological dynamics bearing on the fate of each of these cornered populations.
As the science writer and naturalist David Quammen observes in his absorbing new book, ''Monster of God,'' alpha predators -- among whom he counts lions and tigers and bears, as well as crocodiles, leopards and the Komodo dragon -- have ''played a crucial role in shaping the way we humans construe our place in the natural world.'' They remind us of our limitations and our place in the great chain of being; they are symbols of our vulnerability, our susceptibility to random death and disaster, our primal awareness, in Mr. Quammen's words, ''of being meat.''
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393326098, Paperback)

As the subtitle of David Quammen's Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind suggests, his fascination centers on those animals that raise human "awareness of being meat," and he likens the historic impact of these predators to modern-day car accidents: sudden, unexpected, life-changing. While his research is extraordinary--encompassing extensive field work and diverse reading on the science and lore surrounding predatory animals--Quammen's peripatetic mind jumps from history to psychology to ecology and from Africa to Russia to Australia, sometimes leaving his readers without a base camp to recuperate during the breath-taking journey.

His research on the lions of Gir forest in India, on the crocodiles of Northern Australia, on the bears of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, and on the Siberian tigers of Far East Russia finds animals held in constant tension, encircled by every-expanding human populations. But Quammen doesn't oversimplify the conflicts. Often, in fact, Quammen has so much to say about competing interests that he makes several false starts before finding his true theme. Recalling his reading in the l970s literature on crocodiles in Africa, for example, Quammen abruptly jumps to a failed farming and reintroduction project begun in India before finally settling into the investigation of Northern Australia's Crocodylus Park.

These changes in geography, time, and perspective can be disorienting in a book that is already complicated by its several competing approaches. Adding to the abundance, Quammen explores human population growth projections, images of the Leviathan in the Bible, keystone species theory, the Muskrat hypothesis (the idea that the "wastage parts" of an animal species are the ones most likely to suffer predation), and the 1994 discovery of the Chauvet cave paintings. Yet Quammen, author of The Soing of the Dodo moves with such ease through this wilderness of ideas that even the most difficult material becomes palatable. --Patrick O’Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:10 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Monster of God is journey through time and landscape, through science and literature and myth, to explore the nature of big predators and the variety of human attitudes toward them. It's an intellectual travelogue spanning continents and disciplines - from Romania to Australia, from ecology to art history, and from Beowulf to Hollywood. In search of human voices as well as formidable beasts, Quammen visited and revisited four remote landscapes, little-known places where rural people still lead perilous lives in propinquity to one or another species of big predator. His book carries us along on those travels - up to high meadows in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, where the brown bear coexists uneasily with cheese-making shepherds; to an Aboriginal community in northern Australia, where the saltwater crocodile is venerated as an ancestor; to the snowbound Bikin River valley in the mountainous Russian Far East, where the Siberian tiger competes with natives trappers of the Udege tribe for a limited supply of deer and boar; and to the Gir forest of western India, last refuge of the Asiatic lion, where stock-herding people known as Maldharis graze their buffaloes in the presence of the great cats. It also takes us into the background of ecological thinking on certain crucial concepts, such as food chains, the pyramid of numbers, and keystone species."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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