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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Agroup of traders huddles around a pile of dried shark fins on a gleaming white floor in Hong Kong. A Papua New Guinean elder shoves off in his hand-carved canoe, ready to summon a shark with ancient magic. A scientist finds a rare shark in Indonesia and forges a deal with villagers so it and other species can survive.

In this eye-opening adventure that spans the globe, Jul
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Hardcover, 295 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,360)
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karen
SHARK WEEK FLOAT!!! from a couple of shark weeks ago

oh my god i just saw this on the teevee tonight, so i am adding it to the review and you should all watch this clip because it is hilarious! to me. also terrifying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9Fc-T...

SHARK WEEK SHARK WEEK SHARK WEEK

today is the start of shark week, so get ready. i have been ready for a week now. last week, i watched the best of shark week on demand, i watched jaws for the very first time, and i read this book. i also comman
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Lolly's Library
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 s ...more
nicole
I'm a total armchair marine biologist. I will eat up book after book about any aquatic creature. But this in particular caught my attention, because, well, SHARKS!

I had a lot of trouble with sticking with it, though. Part of the problem is being in a library every day, surrounded by lots of books I haven't read, that I would be allowed to just take home. As if I didn't have any other books to read. Part of it is just the writing and pacing -- it's no The Secret Life of Lobsters, that's for sur
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Alan
To start off with, I've been a fan of sharks since well before "Jaws" was released back in the 1970s. I recall trolling new and used books stores for any book that had anything to do with sharks or the sea, but especially sharks. And that interest has never died for me, so I grabbed a copy of "Demon Fish" by Juliet Eilperin when I saw it.

This is not your typical book on the natural history of sharks. While most books on sharks will focus on one of a couple of things, i.e., the diversity and bio
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Kelly
This is a book about what people think about sharks and what people do to (and with) sharks. It also has the feel of a layperson's travelogue into a variety of shark-related hotspots, seasoned with interview summaries and the occasional personal reflection. Juliet Eilperin abruptly shifts from discussing early mythological depictions of sharks, to the controversies of shark fin soup, ecotourism, food chain hierarchies, sport fishing, marine biology, and the legacy of Peter Benchley. The end resu ...more
Alex Telander
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
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Jael
This had a slow start for me, and then it picked up. It bogged down again at one point about halfway through (political stuff) and if I hadn't been determined to finish it THIS WEEK (because I've been reading it since JUNE) I probably would have set it aside again.

There was a lot that was really interesting about sharks in this book that I did not know previously, and I feel I learned a lot. I didn't care so much for the overwhelming amount of text devoted to the political and activism sides of
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Barbara
I liked reading about different shark myths across cultures, as well as DNA origins, but this book didn't teach me much about sharks themselves. While I appreciate the conservation approach, I think Peter Benchley's SHARK TROUBLE does a better job explaining the importance of sharks to different ecosystems.
J.T.
Like many, I'm sure, I've long had a fascination with sharks. I've watched, read, and listened to countless stories on these animals, some of the excellent and some awful. Too often, I've found that the newest book is little more than a rehash of previous books or offers little insight. "Demon Fish" definitely breaks that streak.

The off-putting title made me leery, but once I opened the book, I was in for a wonderful and compelling read. Like many, the author is concerned about the slaughter of
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Dindy
Did you realize that the great culinary delicacy for which millions of sharks are killed each year, shark fin soup, only contains one tiny, tasteless strand from the shark's fin? I didn't until I read this book.

I expected the book to be more about the natural history of sharks-- their biology, behavior, habits, migration pattern, etc. Instead, it was a book about the relationship between sharks and humans. Author Juliet Eilperin travels worldwide, from Papua New Guinea to the fish markets of Hon
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Paul Pessolano
“Demon Fish” by Juliet Eilperin, published by Pantheon Books.

Category – Animal/Nature

Most of us have a preconceived idea about sharks, this stems from the hit movie “Jaws” and the sensational articles that have been written about shark attacks. These two events, and there are others, have led to an unprecedented killing of sharks around the world.

Another major reason for the killing of sharks is the Asian desire for Shark’s Fin Soup. A soup, by the way, that most people find very bland and only
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Dachokie
Demon Fish or Demon Man?

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.

Are sharks nothing but ruthless killers that deserve to be killed solely because the media machine is focused more on sensationalizing news and perpetuating basic fears than reporting simple truths? Has the blockbuster film "Jaws" created an unnecessary hysteria of hatred toward all sharks? Is man's craving for a particular delicacy reached a point where we are systemati
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Jonathan Schildbach
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I find sharks fascinating, and as much as they scare the hell out of me, they definitely need to be protected--which was basically what the book was about (the protection, not the scares). Eilperin provides plenty of information to make the case that sharks need to be saved from over-fishing, but often the information was padded with repetitive observations--for instance, that protecting sharks in one geographical area would not provide enough p ...more
Steve
While the title and cover suggest an intimate look at sharks and their world, this is, instead, a book of environmentalist reportage focused on the people who work with sharks in various capacities: scientists, fishermen, politicians, even restaurateurs. It's essentially a book about fish population management. In other words, it's pretty dry, with only a couple of chapters that deliver even a fraction of the information any book about a species of animal should deliver, and virtually none of th ...more
Lee Anne
Washington Post environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin, who in her dust jacket photo looks as exactly as "tote bag" as you expect her to, authored this book on sharks and people's adversarial relationship with them.

This book and I got off on the wrong foot. The first chapter, about shark callers in Papua, New Guinea, was so long, earnest, and dull, and the author seemed so uncertain as to how much to insert herself into the narrative, that I quickly lost interest. Although there are some interes
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John Hood
In Juliet Eilperin’s Demon Fish, however, it’s us humans who come off the most evil, rather than the sharks who share the Devil’s name. Eilperin, a national environmental reporter for The Washington Post, traces humankind’s history with the prehistoric critters and comes off proving that, other than the occasional attack or two, these beasts are really on the side of the angels.

Okay, so I exaggerate — some. Sharks are actually more submerged deity than winged angel, at least so far as the few re
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Greg
Demon Fish is not so much a book about sharks as about shark conservation in the face of the depredations of commercial fishing and adventure tourism. A reader who comes to this book expecting to learn about the animals themselves, as I did, is likely to be disappointed.

Eilperin places sharks within an evolutionary and cultural context that goes back to pre-history. Civilisations across the globe, from PNG to the Aztecs to the Chinese, have revered sharks. In the latter case, this has transmuted
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Emily
Jul 08, 2012 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: animal lovers
Recommended to Emily by: NYTimes, I think
Shelves: nonfiction
"But the best example of how we should treat sharks came from perhamps the unlikeliest conservation hero of them all, George W. Bush, in June 2006. For years environmentalists had been pressing the White House to fully protect the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Another remarkable series of Pacific atolls stretching fourteen hundred miles lng and a hundred miles across, the uninhabited chian boasts more than seven thousand marine species, at least a quarter of which are found nowhere else on earth. ...more
Julie Ann Dawson
Reviewer note: My review copy was an uncorrected bound proof and may not match final book.

I am a huge fan of sharks. I have been since childhood, and even today I have an entire shelf dedicated to shark figurines and toys. So it was with great excitement that I began to dig into the pages of Juliet Eilperin's Demon Fish. Demon Fish is less a traditional book on sharks than it is a study into how humans have interacted with them throughout history. Or, at least, that is how the book is marketed.
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Ryan
I was drawn to this book by the subject matter, and the title, and the jacket art, which features a looming shark staring straight at the viewer from behind text that appears to be sliding out of gill slits.

The book itself falls into a category I have no name for, but that I describe as "stuff that makes me feel powerless." While there are some positive notes of potential recovery amid the warnings of shark extinctions, the frequent mention of China's obsession with the tasteless practice of "fi
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Sean
The theme the author made prominent in the book is that sharks have had a pretty bad reputation for attacking people. But actually its not as common as people think. The other theme is that sharks are being decimated it numbers by the hundreds of thousands killed every day. The author makes several points saying how shark conservation is important. The book is generally about man's impact on sharks and how we should use our ocean resources more wisely. The authors purpose for writing this book w ...more
g-na
To be honest, I almost abandoned this book without finishing it. Eilperin investigates the relationship between humans and sharks, and most of that revolved around the former killing the latter. I was so upset reading about the relentless killing of sharks that I considered giving up on it.

That being said, the author has done a good job researching how sharks and people have been connected throughout time. There have been cultures who in the past have revered sharks, but the passage of time and
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Cindy
Have I mentioned how much I love sharks? If you love sharks like I do and watch Discovery, Shark Week, and National Geographic Wild, there is little information in this book that will seem new to you. However, if you do not love sharks or do not watch Shark Week or nature documentaries, this is a very engaging, informal, and informative book about sharks, how we feel about sharks, how we have felt about sharks, how little we actually know about sharks, and how we are currently decimating shark p ...more
Ryan
Glad I got through it! The pacing was a little off, but otherwise it's an excellent book about some cool elements of shark biology and behavior, but mostly about our relationship with them as a species. People are scared of them, but they should be scared of us, etc. You learn about the disgusting practice of finning - where sharks are caught, killed, de-finned, and cast back into the water. This is only because a lot of Asian cultures will pay a lot of money for shark fin soup, which doesn't ad ...more
Becca
Well researched, easy to read, and very interesting. It kept my interest through out and helped me see the issue of shark fishing from all sides and much more clearly. I always looked forward to picking up the book again and reading more. I just picked this up at the library on a whim because the cover caught my attention. I'm so glad that I did.
Michelle
While I personally would have given this book 4 stars, I choose 3 because if you are not obsessed with sharks like I am, you may not enjoy it as much. It is the story of a jounalist travelling the world to research the very large decline in shark populations. People have a tendancy to think that because sharks have survived since the time of the dinosaurs that they will always be there. That is clearly not the case after what this author discovered. Shark populations are declining rapidly, even ...more
Victoria
As a die-hard "shark fan" I have to say that I was a little disappointed with this book. A lot of the facts continue to be a regurgitation of the same information that has been published through Shark Week. And despite many references about how "everything we know now about sharks is so different" there wasn't really enough evidential support of this rather broad statement. That being said, if you missed Shark Week the last few years, and you can't wait until August, then definitely pick this bo ...more
Tea Krulos
You might not believe this, but I had the idea to write this same book. It was a pipedream book, something I could write if money wasn't an object. My working title was "Man Bites Shark."

You can imagine my weird surprise when I was browsing a bookstore and found this. Flipping through it, I realized every idea I had thought up, down to specific chapter ideas, was in this book. I would say it was Twilight Zone- like.

So, I gave up on that idea but the good news is I got an excellent book to read.
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Emily
Really well researched but not what I expected. I got it for and enjoyed the shark science parts (and realize how little we know still) and learned a lot overall, but it was way more about the politics of conservation. If you want that 3-4 stars for sure.
Sonatajessica
Really, really pleasing reading experience. Well researched, even better presented, great mix of scientific facts, interesting stories, a good poundage of enviromental message and, of course, many, many sharks. Every shark enthusiast will love this, and that is maybe the only minus I can come up with: Those who read this are already convinced of the brilliance and importance of sharks and believe that living WITH them is an issue to be endorsed. Those who ought to receive this message probably w ...more
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“In many ways marine biology is at a pivotal moment, when we are discovering the richness of the ocean at the very time we are grasping how we’ve managed to deplete it over the last few centuries. Preserving what’s left, as well as rebuilding parts of it to a semblance of what it used to be, requires us to relinquish some of the power we have exercised in the past. It requires living with sharks.” 0 likes
“A relentless worker, Myers only stopped producing when he was felled in 2006 by an inoperable brain tumor. He died at fifty-four on March 27, 2007; that week the journal Science published his last, groundbreaking paper: it provided convincing evidence that the decimation of sharks in the Atlantic had produced a cascade of unintended effects that were distorting ecosystems up and down the East Coast. He and his colleagues calculated that between 1970 and 2005, the number of scalloped hammerhead and tiger sharks declined by more than 97 percent, and bull, dusky, and smooth hammerhead sharks dropped by more than 99 percent. During that same period nearly all of the sharks’ prey species exploded: the cownose ray population off the East Coast expanded to as much as forty million. They became the thugs of the ocean, rampaging and pillaging in their quest to sustain their ever-rising numbers. Cownose rays eat tremendous amounts of bay scallops, oysters, and soft-shell and hard clams, and by 2004 their consumption of nearly all the adult scallops in the North Carolina sounds forced the state to shutter its century-old bay scallop fishery.” 0 likes
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