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The Devil's Teeth

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,998 Ratings  ·  603 Reviews
In a matter of months, Casey was being hoisted out of the early-winter swells on a crane, up a cliff face to the barren surface of Southeast Farallon Island-dubbed by sailors in the 1850s the "devil's teeth." There she joined Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the island's one habitable building, a haunted, 135-y ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Henry Holt & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephanie
I am really torn about this book.

On the one hand, I really enjoyed being introduced to the incredible history, both natural and otherwise, of the Farallon islands. I also really enjoyed hearing all the anecdotes about shark behavior and the unique group of animals that spend fall at the Farallons. I would have liked to hear more about the results of the tracking project that is mentioned briefly towards the end of the book.

On the other hand, I really could not understand the arrogance and fool
...more
Cindy Brown Ash
Sep 03, 2012 Cindy Brown Ash rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cindy by: Book club book
I am very irritated with Susan Casey. I think she is a self-centered, self-important, self-deluded wreck. Ruined not only someone's life, but also caused tremendous damage to shark research. Would not read anything by her again.
Carl
Nov 15, 2012 Carl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by a daughter, and in an area I’d usually enjoy, but I can barely give this 3 stars. The first half is an interesting natural history of the Farallon Islands, with an emphasis on the Great White Sharks and the scientists who study them, along with a brief cultural/social history of the tiny islands that started after the Gold Rush.
My enjoyment was marred by two aspects: First, the writer’s style; obviously she hasn’t met a self-created metaphor she doesn’t love. Some paragraphs had
...more
Kate
Jul 28, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: shark enthusiasts, desk jockeys looking for escape, non-fiction fans
Having seen that amazing documentary about the Farallones sharks, I started reading for the acquaintance subject matter, and got totally sucked in -- couldn't put this book down. The first half is absolutely riveting -- if there is such a thing as "adventure research", this is it. Made me want to be on the islands (an impossibility), made me feel like a workday spent in front of the computer is a soulless and lifeless choice, made me want to be out there in the thick of it watching life in all i ...more
Nicole
Apr 21, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I both loved and hated this book! The Farallones are an a set of craggy, treacherous islands thirty-five miles away from San Francisco. While they're inhospitable to humans, the islands are home to an amazingly diverse array of sea birds, seals, sea lions, whales, jelly fish, and, at the right time of year, great white sharks. Throughout the first half of the book, my mind was blown as often by the sharks and the fascinating research being done on them as it was by the human history (egg wars, n ...more
Marian Deegan
Aug 16, 2010 Marian Deegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm the girl who, for decades, couldn't lower myself into a swimming pool without sending my heart into erratic lunging spasms. Because, you see, I never got JAWS out of my head.

Over sushi one night with a group of supremely self-confident photographers and producers from New York, I listened in disbelief to one producer's plans to pay exorbitant amounts for the privilege of being lowered into the waters off the Farallon Islands in the fall, when great whites congregate in inexplicable throngs.
...more
Book Concierge
A fascinating account of the Farallon Islands and the author's obsession with studying (or just seeing) the large sharks that frequent the waters around there. I think she was somewhat naive; but I probably would have done the same thing.
Eric_W
Mar 22, 2011 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The jaws of a megaladon could open so wide that a modern quarter-horse could stand upright in them and not nick his head on teeth that were estimated to have been over 7 inches long. The ancestor of the great white shark, they survived at least four mass extinctions and evolved into a perfect predator.

Great whites have “an aura of gentleness” when they are not feeding. That’s not an assertion I would personally like to test out. Then again, perhaps our genes have an innate fear of dark things th
...more
J.C. Antonelli
Oct 27, 2012 J.C. Antonelli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gets five stars from me because I found myself thinking about it for weeks after reading it. Susan Casey's book starts out as an interesting non-fiction piece on the researchers who spend months of the year studying the great whites' congregation in the Farallones (about 25 miles west of San Francisco), but then it morphs into something more interesting and personal. Despite having been given what is basically a weekend pass to the island to stay with the researchers, she obsesses over ...more
Mairi
Oct 12, 2011 Mairi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
I don't even know where to start. I'm so torn by this book.

The first half had me grinning and nodding and laughing and reading sections of it aloud to my daughter. The author is a journalist with a wide-eyed fascination with sharks. The introduction (to the island, the sharks, the researchers) was interestingly told. The brief overview of the history of the island left me scrabbling to the back to track down her references so I could read more.

The second part left me wishing I'd lost it halfway
...more
Elizabeth A
Dec 28, 2015 Elizabeth A rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
From promo material: A journalist's obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators, and the strange band of surfer-scientists who follow them.

This was our read aloud book on the boat this summer, a perfect time and place to read it. Remember that emotional checklist: happy, sad, mad, glad? Well, I experienced that entire range while reading this one. This is narrative non-fiction at its best - we learn about the enviro
...more
Cindy
It's not often I come across a nonfiction book that is a can't-put-it-down, stay-up-all-night page turner. But this book about the Farallone Islands, the great white sharks who live there, and the researchers who study them is just such a book. It is filled with dramatic bloody attacks that I would have thought would make me feel sorry for the seal and sea lion victims, but the researcher's stories about the sharks express such warmth and appreciation for the various shark personalities, I ended ...more
Perrin Pring
The first part of this book is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Casey's concise but creative language takes you to the Farallones. You can feel the humid cold, you can smell the bird shit, you can taste the salty and sharp wind. It wraps you up and makes you want to do anything to get out to the Farallones and experience their absolute misery because it sounds down right invigorating.

You also learn a fair bit. From some basic shark facts (I would have liked a lot more science about the islands and
...more
Jeanette
Apr 24, 2014 Jeanette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My own shark obsession aside, this is easily one of the best books I've ever read. Casey writes with a sense of humor and weaves together a true story so masterfully that it rivals even the best fiction. It has all the elements of a great tale: tempests, lonely islands in the middle of shark-infested waters, hauntings, adventure, shipwrecks (and biologists that give new meaning to the term 'bad-ass'.) Only, it's even better, because it's all true. And, man oh man, the sharks! It was like reading ...more
David Carr
Aug 09, 2015 David Carr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this several years ago, before or after a book about grizzly bear attacks, during a period of too many faculty meetings.
Lisa James
Freaking AWESOME. Susan's experiences suck the reader right into the book, & the way she writes, you feel like you are right there with her. It's exciting, funny, makes you smile, makes you cringe, & makes you go ow WOW, I never knew that! This book was just COOL. It made me want to see them too! I was SO glad she included photos from the history of the islands, as well as color pics of the recent activity that she saw. They brought the book to vivid life.
Kayt
Jan 05, 2015 Kayt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A quick glance at other reviews reveals a near-unanimous opinion: for the first 2/3 this is a wonderfully fascinating book about giant sharks, personal anecdotes from several decades of shark research on the Farallon Islands in California, introductions to sharks with distinct names and personalities, beautifully descriptive scenery, and interesting side stories on the history of the area, including gun battles over egg-collecting rights.

The last third of the book nearly ruins it all. While auth
...more
Velma
May 04, 2010 Velma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history, natural history, & science buffs
Recommended to Velma by: Outside magazine article
I ran across an excerpt of this non-fiction chronicle of the natural (and otherwise) history of the inhabitants of the Farallon Islands in 2005 in an Outside magazine article I read while winging my way over them on my way to a Hawaiian vacation. A volume focused in large part on the toothy denizens of the waters surrounding these islands, located 27 miles off the California coast due west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, seemed less-than ideal reading material for a trip centered on ...more
Wendell
The Devil's Teeth is far better than The Wave, published some four years later. This is still basically magazine writing, with all that implies about depth and form, but the book is rather well done at that. Casey has an eye for the telling detail and can craft enviable similes, apparently without effort. Here, as in The Wave, there’s a moral dilemma the size of Montana at the heart of the book and here, as in The Wave, Casey essentially sidesteps it. By pulling strings (being charming, blonde, ...more
Benjamin Kelchlin
Reveling in the adventure and risk of the first few shark encounters that the book presented, I became entranced by the genuine enthusiasm of Peter, Scot, Kevin, and other biologists on the Farallon Islands when it came to ornithology, and the shark study. After 7 years of observation and research, Peter and Scot could put pieces together describing shark behavior that seem intuitive; as in the way the sharks feel objects with their mouths out of curiosity. Also, seeing the development of the sh ...more
Ice
May 12, 2010 Ice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In a post-Jaws/Discovery Channel world, unearthing fresh data on great white sharks is a feat. So credit Susan Casey not just with finding and spotlighting two biologists who have done truly pioneering field research on the beasts but also with following them and their subjects into the heart of one of the most unnatural habitats on Earth: the Farallon Islands. Though just 30 miles due west of San Francisco, the Farallones--nicknamed the Devil's Teeth for their ragged appearance and raging inhos ...more
Hannah
Apr 06, 2010 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Verdict: Frightening and Beautiful



I enjoy memoirs.


I enjoy sharks.


I really enjoy memoirs concerning sharks.


"The Devil's Teeth" is quite possibly the most enjoyable memoir that I have ever read. I know that the expectations of literary society are to love memoirs of classical authors and even great politicians but expectations be damned. Susan Casey has written a phenomenal story.


My love of sharks aside, I feel that this story reads almost like a well written fantasy. From page one we are sen
...more
Foster
Apr 07, 2009 Foster rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael W.
Ostensibly, this book is about the White Sharks of the Farallon islands, though Casey touches on many subjects: Farallon history, the shark and bird researchers allowed to live on the island and even some folklore and supernatural (ghostly) phenomena. For this reason, the book is interesting, but also somewhat lacking in focus.

It would be more accurate to say that it's really author Susan Casey's diary of her visits to and around the islands. The author conveys her wonder and feelings about the
...more
Pamela
Jun 15, 2011 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Susan Casey. Again she takes something interesting and adds her personal perspective. She provided a lot of interesting facts, and now, living in the Bay Area, I can say I really know more about the ocean than I ever did living on the East Coast! And now I know when to go out in the water, and when not to!!

I really enjoyed this book and her perspective. I think she makes a good journalist, really getting involved with what she is reporting on. I also think this is such a g
...more
Meg Tyler
Like many other reviewers, my opinion on this book is torn. I was certainly entertained by the story, and I appreciate a peek into the world of animal research in the wild. Casey is a talented writer, writing poetically about the magnificence of the sharks and the hardships of the islands. I don't want a book review to turn into an indictment of her personal choices. However, it is difficult to overlook her totally irresponsible behavior and ambivalence regarding the outcome thereof. by the end ...more
Matt Laucamp
You know what this was a spectacular, mind whirling, Extravagant Book. I couldn't take my eyes off of this book for one moment. The Book Devils Teeth is about a mysterious place off the coast of San Francisco that is full of giant rocks that will scare the snarf out of you. The place is called Farrollon Island and it is so dangerous that it is wiped out of google maps so that nobody will try to go there. It is the place with the highest population of Great White Sharks in the world. There are s ...more
Kevin
Feb 06, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In additional to everything I learned about great white sharks, I most enjoyed the history of the Farallon Islands. For a short documentary on the islands see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVL_2...
Amanda Vance
I was worried that reading this book would scare me off of one of my favorite hobbies and retreats...whenever possible I surf, and my home breaks sit right in the red triangle. I'll still be surfing.
This book started off strong. Well written, very interesting information involving sharks, the Farralones, and natural history. I had a hard time putting it down. After about halfway through I was quite disappointed. I recognize that this is essentially a memoir, and the story was written as the eve
...more
Bert Brown
Aug 29, 2015 Bert Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting history of the Farallon Islands up to the present. It is also the story of Great White Shark research around the islands and the N. California coast.
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