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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  502 Ratings  ·  82 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
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jun 29, 2016 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SHARK WEEK FLOAT!!! from a couple of shark weeks ago but still so sharky!!

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.


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 th
Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)
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
Jul 20, 2011 nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marine-biology
This book is not so much a natural history of sharks as it is a social history of human attitudes towards sharks, and it fills an important gap in writings about sharks and marine ecology. Juliet Eilperin writes with an easy style that doesn't become breezy or flippant and presents some bitter realities in a palatable way. Overall, the book has an optimistic tone, but Eilperin doesn't sugar coat or shy away from disconcerting truths.

When she presents portraits of people involved with sharks, ei
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
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
May 15, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2011 Alex Telander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Interesting, but MUCH more of the content is about conservation efforts (or lack thereof) than about the creatures themselves. I'm all for conservation, truly!, but I really wanted/hoped for more information about sharks themselves.
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
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
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.
Jan 05, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
An incredibly well-researched and informative global adventure about sharks and their interactions with human beings. A great read for any shark lover!
Jan 21, 2016 J.T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2015 Dindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, vine
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
Sep 03, 2013 Dachokie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
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
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
Aug 12, 2012 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reading
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
John Hood
Jul 30, 2011 John Hood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2013 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
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
Jul 08, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
Jun 11, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2013 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2012 g-na rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology-zoology
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
Dec 18, 2011 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Aug 15, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2015 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The degree to which humans are a more immediate threat to sharks than sharks are to humans is stunning; the fact that we've wiped out so many of these ancient predators in such a short period of time is terrifying. This is an interesting if not entirely gripping read about sharks, which analyzes the animals and their interactions with humans from many different angles.
Mar 27, 2014 Becca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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