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