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The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World's Most Elusive Sea Creature
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The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World's Most Elusive Sea Creature

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  461 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
The most mysterious and elusive of all sea creatures, the giant squid -at least sixty feet long and weighing more than a ton- is also one of the largest. With two whip-like tentacles, eight arms studded with toothed suckers, and two lidless eyes the size of dinner plates, Architeurthis has inspired myths and movies, nightmares and religious conversions. Yet it has never be ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30)
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Stephen
Sep 17, 2010 Stephen rated it liked it
4 stars for the biology, 2 stars for the mythology. That evens out to a 3 right? The Giant Squid is a fascinating and elusive creature. Up to 60 feet long with nothing hard in it's skeleton except a vestigial shell (squids have evolved from mollusks like snails). All of our knowledge of the creature comes from remains that are washed ashore or the contents of whale's stomachs. No one has seen or observed an Architeuthis in its natural habitat so everything about it is open to speculation. What i ...more
Charlie
Jun 11, 2015 Charlie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love giant squid. This book is devoted entirely to all aspects of giant squid. I read it as a lonely, zoology-obsessed 8th grader and it's been one of my most re-read books ever since.
Pete
Jan 02, 2015 Pete rated it did not like it
I read this because my son is fascinated with giant squid. But there was not enough info on the giant squid for a book apparently, as this one surely demonstrates. As other reviewers have mentioned, the chapter on giant squid models almost made me put the book down.
And despite time to explore that in excruciating detail, there was nothing on squid anatomy, and very little on how other squid work in general for comparison. Also, very little on the sperm whale which would've provided some informat
...more
Nostalgia Reader
Sep 04, 2016 Nostalgia Reader rated it liked it
Shelves: buzz-complete
3.5 stars, not good enough to round up, though.

For a book about a creature that seems to be relatively impossible to study accurately, this book is full of information on all aspects of giant squid, including detailed chapters on the various sightings and studies of beached squid.

However, much of the time I spent reading felt like I was reading a textbook designed for marine biology majors. For me, there was never a solid introduction to the squid, and much of the information was presented in a
...more
Danielle T
At the time of publication, this was one of the most definitive compilations on Architeuthis. Alas, that was 1998, and this book is now showing its age, but it's still a very good survey of the historical and cultural accounts of the giant squid. I checked this out shortly after the Discovery special aired January 27th, 2013 because I was curious about previous information in deadtree edition. Also swore to actually finish an Ellis book because I frequently check them out, but never get to them ...more
Chriss
May 18, 2010 Chriss rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone interested in sea monsters
Recommended to Chriss by: Neth Space
Shelves: reference
This is a good book to get a history on thought and theory about the giant squid and other large cephalopods. There's also an interesting section relating 'sea serpent' accounts and how other researchers have postulated that these were really giant squid sightings.

This is a scientific book, though, and while it is easy to read it is repetitious. Each chapter begins with several paragraphs that set-the-stage, then come a bunch of paragraphs of data and quotations, than the chapters end with sever
...more
Eric
Nov 04, 2007 Eric rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Social Ecologists
This book was given to me as a birthday gift from my friend Chris Werle, entomologist and musician. He likened it to the book Wasp Farm and I related it to other books of the same style, identified below.

This is a great book in the marine social-scientific realm. It discusses the anatomy, mythology, historical context, and modern understanding of the giant squid. A favorite for me are the numerous "encounter" stories retold in the book, of tentacles chopped from an attacking squid or of a stran
...more
James
Apr 26, 2009 James rated it liked it
of the known creatures of the world, the giant squid is one about which not a lot is known, so i recognize that this means that a lot of the info contained within such a difficult project as writing a scientific book about architeuthis, is going to be based on speculation and prior reports, rather than first-hand examination or research.

it would also make sense then, that in the interest of not plagiarizing, and not wrapping up within 50 pages, there would be a considerable amount of excerpting
...more
Allyson
Aug 20, 2010 Allyson rated it really liked it
Gosh this is a slow mover! The first part was really dry, a lot of biology and quotes from scientific journals. Here's my favorite, from Captain Arthur de Capell Brooke, who wrote of his travels in the northern seas: He trusts fishermen because they are "an honest and artless class of men, who, having no motive for misrepresentation, cannot be suspected of a wish to deceive." Therefore, he totally believes their accounts of sea monsters that are actually Architeuthis (giant squid).

OK, too much
...more
Jesse Zellmer
Feb 06, 2014 Jesse Zellmer rated it liked it
I read this book around my "herp derp I wanna be a marine biologist" phase in middle school-early high school, and all I could think of was how fascinating this creature is. The book is a good read overall, but it's informative nonfiction so of course it's gonna be dry. Great for people like me who have heard we've explored space more than our own oceans, but yeah, a little dry.
Immanuel
Dec 04, 2012 Immanuel rated it really liked it
Shelves: rwr
Richard Ellis’s novel the search for the giant squid vividly compares and contrasts myth, legend, and fact about the giant squid. Richard Ellis carefully balances his information about this elusive sea creature with legendary stories and artifacts that tell us about this beasts long and forgotten past. Richard Ellis’s novel explores deeply into the unimaginable, while taking you on an adventure with a ghostly secret. I enjoyed this book mainly because of its pace. The books plot and information ...more
Bill
Dec 03, 2009 Bill rated it liked it
If you know me, chances are you know my love for all things Giant Squid. It's an inside joke with some, it's on my favorite hoodie, and it's just kind of a casual interest of mine. So when I noticed this book on my buddy's shelf as I was helping him move, I asked to borrow it. It made for a pretty intriguing read, even if it was written pretty much entirely from a scientific standpoint (then again, it's a book about the search for the giant squid, so what did I expect?). My main issue is that th ...more
Amanda
Sep 30, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like giant squid
Recommended to Amanda by: sale table at Borders
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has a lot of information about giant squid - all of the scientific knows and unknowns and legends & fiction about the gigantic mollusks. It was very fascinating and compelling to read, especially the speculations and explanations for sea serpents, and the thoughts on what sperm whale and squid battles are really like.

There were great drawings reproduced of squid sightings and photos and the like. The only thing I thought was missing was a diagram of what the giant squid's rough an
...more
Fishface
Jan 20, 2016 Fishface rated it it was amazing
Wonderful study of a creature so rare it's, well, impossible to study. Best bathtub reading ever. Bring your diving mask and submersible.
Xian
Jan 21, 2016 Xian rated it liked it
Very informative, sometimes excessively so, but it was fun reading this with a tablet at hand for Wikipedia.
Mike
Jul 25, 2008 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a let down. While the book does a decent job of compiling all the basic knowledge of the giant squid up until 1998, strandings, sightings, and its appearances in art and literature to boot, the author's writing style leaves a bit to be desired. I figured I'd blow through the book, because what could be more exciting than giant squid, right? Wrong. This book D R A G G E D on forever and I just wanted to be done with it. Reading this book felt like listening to a dry college lecture, whic ...more
Nick Black
most of what was worth reading i'd already seen in Discovery or Nature or similar rags. the rest is, at times, border-nonsense and certainly rife with speculation, purple prose bursting forth like the jettisoned sepia of enraged giant squids presented with so many calamari taunts. all better texts teuthlogic, however, are so frightfully expensive as to render them, for all real purposes, nonexistent.

THIS, SPRINGER-VERLAG-ELSEVIER-DICKLICKERS, IS HOW WE WILL BURY YOU WITHOUT FIRING A SHOT.

---

i'll
...more
Meg
Mar 21, 2008 Meg rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
An interesting and rather detailed exploration of the giant squid. The author covered the topic well, considering no one has ever seen a healthy living giant squid before. I especially enjoyed the many photographs it contained. Stop after the chapter Battle of the Giants. The rest of the book focuses on Architeuthis in movies, literature, and museum models. To me, this seemed really out of synch with the other chapters, as though he just wanted to pad his scientific material with an extra fifty ...more
Caleb
Jun 03, 2008 Caleb rated it it was ok
I wish this book was better...My wife gave it to me for my birthday some years ago, and I anticipated inky deep-water unknown science, like James Burke or Lawrence Weschler (who wrote "Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder" which I loved). The story is compromised by a confused timeline and too many stories of squid pieces washing up on indistinguishable shorelines. Neither enough science, nor enough human quirky stuff (like E. Annie Proulx might have included).
James
Jun 21, 2008 James rated it liked it
This book sort of covers all aspects of giant squids - the myths, the biology, the natural history, etc. Good primer. Some fascinating details, but the real charm of the book is that even in our time, when everything seems to have been discovered, examined, analyzed, and there's nothing left to see, there is still mysteries out there that are unexplained.
Emily Larson
Mar 25, 2009 Emily Larson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Thorough coverage and an amazing range of sources made the historical/mythological portion of this book extremely interesting. The science was also well compiled and presented, but I kept thinking how unfortunate that it was written prior to some of the recent captures and video... though it was interesting to note that the author was quoted in some of the news sources reporting the catches.
Torie
May 19, 2008 Torie rated it liked it
Jenessa's bookshelves are yielding some really amazing things that I never even thought of reading before: the Raymond Chandler was one, and now the Giant Squid! It's really, really nice to have friends who have great taste in books that you've never read or even heard of before
Mary
Dec 10, 2009 Mary rated it did not like it
The first part of the book is Ellis' exhaustive search of various old reports of "seam monsters, mermaids, etc" and how their desciptions fit that of the Giant squid. Which starts out interesting but 75 pages later of still documenting report after report gets boring! By the time you get to the biology of the Giant squid your too bored to be interested anymore.
Jessie B.
Apr 02, 2011 Jessie B. rated it really liked it
Before I read this book, I didn't think much of squids, but I discovered that they are fascinating creatures and while I was reading this book there were actually a few news reports of large squid being found around the world. I wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't read this book, but the ocean is a lot stranger and cooler than I imagined.
Jaime
Aug 11, 2008 Jaime marked it as started-reading-never-finished
I really wanted to finish this - I only had a few chapters left - and then....someone else at the library requested it and I couldn't renew it. I would love to know who the other person in town is that just had to read about giant squid. I think we could be good friends. As it stands, I'm just irritated that I couldn't finish the book.
Peggy
Aug 13, 2007 Peggy rated it it was amazing
When this book was published, no one had ever seen a living giant squid in its natural habitat. Much like the Colossal Squid today, we'd seen dead and dying ones and remnants in predator's stomachs, but never the real thing. Ellis's book paints a fascinating picture of this elusive creature and its understudied deep ocean habitat.
Kirsten
Oct 25, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
This offering from Richard Ellis was a bit lackluster -- since not all that much is known about the Giant Squid, I was hoping for more, better-written information on the mythology and pop culture surrounding this critter. There's quite a bit here, but it's not very well organized and not well-explored, I didn't think.
Justin
Jul 11, 2007 Justin rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: squidheads
Boooooooring. Reads like an outline for a book that could have been awesome. Should have been called The Giant Squid Mini-encylopedia. Yawn. Richard Ellis is a badass researcher, but is clueless when it comes to important elements like pacing and progression. That said his fact finding is unsurpassed. He leaves nothing out.
Laurie
Jan 29, 2008 Laurie rated it really liked it
How can you pass up a book with this title!? Ellis did a great job of offering information on the myth and fact of the giant squid. I can't wait until they finally get footage of a live giant squid in it's natural habitat. Proof that mother nature still has lots of good stuff in store for us!!
Laura Jean
Jan 10, 2011 Laura Jean rated it really liked it
Any book that takes note of "the giant squid in literature" gets at least three stars. This one gets four because it also includes so many fantastic cocktail party anecdotes about why squid really are the most amazing creature in the sea, that I can't help but make a little room in my heart.
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Richard Ellis is a celebrated authority on marine biology and America’s foremost marine life artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide. His nine books include The Search for the Giant Squid (a Publishers Weekly 1998 Best Book of the Year), Great White Shark, Encyclopedia of the Sea, Men and Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Deep Atlantic The Book of Whales, and Imagining Atlantis.
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