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Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,295 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. We no longer occupy an inte ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2003)
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Diamond Cowboy
Dec 03, 2015 Diamond Cowboy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read about all the predatory animals to man which include the brown bear of Romania, the crocodile of Austrailia, the Tiger of India, and the lion of Affrica. This book explains the place these animals have in our culture in mithhs, fear, reverence and even godliness. The author did extensive research both physically and scollarly to create this fabulas volume. Enjoy and Be Blessed.
This book has a misleading title. It is about neither monsters (in the traditional sense of the word) nor God. Instead, it is about what the author calls "alpha" predators - animals that are large enough and strong enough to kill humans, and which have been known at times to feed on them afterwards. Although this topic sounds a bit disturbing and gruesome, this book is not a cheap catalog of gory animal attacks. Instead, it is a fascinating look at four specific alpha predators, their history an ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in conservation
Quammen takes the reader on a tour, both geographical and historical, of the world of the Alpha Predators. The Asian Lion (Panthera leo persica) survives in the Gir Forest of the Kathiabar Peninsula, an outcropping of western India. The Salt Water Crocodile (Crocodylus porosis) is found in the mangrove wetlands of the Baitarani River delta in eastern India. The Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) is found in northern Australia's Arnhem Land. The Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) lives in the har ...more
Firstly I would like to point out that I picked up this book thinking that it would be about those alpha predators that have captured and continue to capture the imagination of people around the world. And while Quammen did cover these animals well he was more focused on their place in human history and not our place in theirs, which I did find a little disappointing (but this was a fault of my expectations not the fault of the author). Having said that Quammen does delve into the importance of ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Quammen's Spillover more than this book, but that's not to say this wasn't an interesting read too. In a similar way to Spillover, Quammen takes the reader on a tour of the world. He doesn't just report on predators from afar, but goes to get close up and personal with them, and with the people who've really spent time in their environment. It's still a little difficult to believe he could understand these animals or even that way of life with such short exposures, but he did his resea ...more
Samantha Koller
Jul 19, 2011 Samantha Koller rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I think it's a fabulous, approachable book to pick up when you get home from the zoo or natural history museum and want to learn more, without already having a very strong background in ecology. I especially appreciated how Quammen discussed the topic of conservation of dangerous species without being sentimental or minimizing the toll that they take on local populations. The argument for conservation was much more well-rounded and balanced than any I'd been exposed t ...more
Stephanie McGarrah
I am not an ardent fan of natural history books, or any scientific scholarly works really. But when its done right I'm captivated. Monster of God is a beautifully conceived and written book dedicated to the creatures on this earth who have permanently etched themselves into human kinds psyche. The author traces the relationships between lions, crocodiles and other creatures who remind us that we're "just meat" to man's mythological worlds, while also detailing the history and real world implicat ...more
Oct 03, 2014 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly a good writer. Clearly a "science and nature writer". I was more fascinated, however, with what would possess a person to write about this subject matter than I was with anything written.
I can see how this would appeal to those who love to read about the most minute details of predators, civilizations, the dichotomy between man and nature. But, for Me, I think I would have preferred seeing this in the form of a science and nature documentary -- Richard Attenborough's narration lending t
Feb 04, 2015 Maitrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, wildlife
This was the first book I read by David Quammen, an author I've come to respect for all the outdoorsy articles he's written.

This book has nothing to do with monsters or God, the title looks like a ham-handed job by the publishers. It is something of an anthropological take on societies living in close proximity with large predators. Along the way, it also deals with a little science and ecology of these large predators.

Quammen tours quite a bit of the world, spending time in India with lions, cr
David Quammen is incredibly smart and is a gifted writer. On my "to read" shelf is his most recent book about the origin of global viruses and super-strains.

That said, I was a bit disappointed by this book. There is nothing wrong with Quammen's writing or his argument; what I found sort of problematic was the actual subject matter as opposed to what the title suggested. Yes, Quammmen does discuss what it means to see ourselves as "just another flavor of meat." But when the subtitle of the book i
Mar 24, 2009 Griggette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wildlife/natural history journalism at its best. Quammen examines several carniverous "monsters" that are facing extinction in their last remaining habitat--the Asian lion in India, the saltwater crocodile in India and Australia, the brown bear in Romania, and the Amura (aka Siberian) tiger in Russia--and their controversial relationship to humans throughout history. How do indigenous cultures vs. colonial cultures interact with indigenous flora and fauna? How can governments and local communiti ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Ken-ichi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: learning, nature
A fairly well-written book that's heavy on anecdote and sadly light on analysis or novel commentary. Quammen spends a long, long time talking about his model organisms (Asiatic lions in India, saltwater crocs in Australia, brown bears in Romania, and Amur tigers in the Russian Far East). These passages contain plenty of interesting tidbits, amusing stories, colorful characters, etc., but they tend to drag on. If you're looking for a treatise on humanity's relationship with its potential predator ...more
Michael VanZandt
This book suffered from my own high expectations and misconceptions. Quammen provides a broad scope for his work. His work focuses on four very interesting locales -- Gir forest of India, a Udege reservation in eastern Russia, northern Australia and Romania. The book is a synthesis of biology, environmental studies, political science. It is an enjoyable but it's potential is limited by Quammen's desire to make a book for the mainstream public. The promise of the book is short-circuited and does ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 18, 2014 Emi Bevacqua rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This writer and book were so highly recommended, I'm embarrassed to admit to not liking either. Nothing really appealed to me, maybe I just wasn't in the mood for the vicious and holy subject matter, but I absolutely struggled to get through all these so impossibly far too many many many many many many many words.
Todd Stockslager
Gods and monsters

Quammen touches on the biology, ecology, and culture of large predator species and their interaction with humans--an interaction which can (but doesn't always or exclusively) consist of seeing us as meat on the buffet. He goes to different locations where predator habitats are squeezed, their populations under pressure from hunting, and they are in close contact with humans. It is the variants of these three coordinates, finds Quammen, that leads to bad interactions,

Quammen goes
For a start, an excellent bibliography for anyone interested in the subject.

My interest was in Amur tigers but I couldn't help but continue reading about the other alpha predators Quammen chronicles--brown bears, Komodo dragons, lions, great white sharks….

I enjoyed the combination of myth, history and first-person adventure, and found the author's insights and musings very thought-provoking--for example, his idea that perhaps the eradication of these alpha predators is a predictable part of th
Whether through an error in my judgement or misleading advertising, this book wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting an exploration of the role and symbolism of alpha predators in religion, mythology and culture throughout history - certainly to me that is what the title implies. And the early chapters seemed to promise this, discussing the frequent references to lions in the Bible, the sacred roles given to bulls, crocodiles, lions in Egyptian hieroglyphs, shark worship ...more
Jason Kirk
Sep 12, 2015 Jason Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My theory--really only a notion--is that the extermination of alpha predators is fundamental to the colonial enterprise, wherever that enterprise occurs. It's a crucial part of the process whereby an invading people, with their alien forms of weaponry and organized power, their estrangement from both the homeland they've left and the place where they've fetched up, their detachment and ignorance and fear and (in compensation for those sources of anxiety) their sense of cultural superiority, sei ...more
Benjamin Kahn
Feb 02, 2015 Benjamin Kahn rated it really liked it
Really good coverage of disappearing predators around the world. Quammen does a great job of examining declining predators and the people who live near them. Although some of his more philosophical thoughts on our relationship with large predators and man-eaters didn't really strike much of a chord with me, I thought he succeeded in thoroughly exploring all the issues surrounding the continued existence of these creatures.

Quammen studies four predators - lions in India, crocodiles in India and A
Jan 13, 2016 Kelly rated it really liked it
David Quammen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Another excellent book (though not quite as good as Song of the Dodo and Spillover, hence the four star rating).

Monster of God is about the alpha predators, the animals that have been known to not only kill people but also devour them. Those of us who live in cities far away from these animals, it is easy for us to say how important it is to protect them and save them from extinction. Yet there are people who have to live among them
Oct 19, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, travel
I enjoyed this book because of its passion for travel and ecology. Quammen begins by following lions in western India then moves to Indian crocodiles. Crocs soon bring him to Aboriginal Arnhem land where he finds similar values between man and the alpha predators. Both the threatened lions and crocs are living with an ethnic minority but tolerated by the distant and more politically powerful majority. The Indian Maldhari and the Aborigines who live closely with the predators value them for more ...more
Nov 19, 2010 Nicole marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I like this book but I'm giving it up for now - too much other stuff to read.
Sep 17, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black
Subtitle: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind. David Quammen, one is not surprised to learn, lives in Montana. The dust jacket picture shows him dressed for cold weather, with a mustache and just the right amount of grey hair to look grizzled. Writers whose topic of choice is biological science can be divided into two archetypal groups: the ones who peer through a microscope at a dissected insect, and the ones who go on snowmobiles into Siberia to catch a glimpse of ti ...more
Adam Wiggins
Sep 10, 2011 Adam Wiggins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a mix of naturalism, mythological and historical analysis, and conservationism, this book looks at mankind's relationship with the world's large predators. It primarily focuses on the Indian lion (from the Gir region), the Romanian brown bear (from the snowy Carpathian mountains), the saltwater crocodile (in Australia), and the Siberian tiger (in the Russian far east).

Each tier of the food chain is correspondingly smaller than the one below it: the total biomass of microbial life is an order
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it liked it
A nature writer from Montana visits the Gir Forest in Gujarat, home of the last remaining Asiatic lions, North Australia and Orissa, home of the saltwater crocodile, Romania, home of the most brown bears in Europe west of Russia, and Sikhote-Alin, home of the Amur tiger. The future of these man- and livestock-eating predators is not terribly bright, given that the population of India and the world in general is growing (that of Romania is falling, though), and all these people want goods made fr ...more
May 31, 2013 Gavin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't get enough of David Quammen's writing. It's always a journey into a series of kaleidescopic fractals projecting you into the politics, philosophy, science and culture of the natural world. And the concluding chapter I thought was genius. The author has a knack for chipping away at the deeply embedded symbolic psyche that underlies what it means to be human, and in this case, catapults the mythic dimensions of man-eating beasts back into the vivid, dangerous and at once both thrilling and ...more
Todd Martin
May 06, 2011 Todd Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Monster of God David Quammen uses the organizing principle of “great and terrible flesh-eating beasts” (i.e. animals that can, and sometimes do eat people) to examine the history, natural history and present day realities of these creatures. These include the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) or Indian Lion (which is found only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India), the salt water crocodile (of India and Australia), the brown bear (Romania), and the Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica).

Dean Hamilton
Nov 04, 2012 Dean Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walking downtown one day, a number of years ago, I was startled by a massive tawny head that peered around a concrete pillar and regarded me with a baleful, quizzical yellow glare. You don't generally expect to run into a full-grown African lion in the heart of a teeming metropolis. I stopped dead, an act that attracted its immediate attention, despite the more jaded urbanites that crowded the sidewalk and barely glanced at this apparition of the savannah as they passed. There is something about ...more
David Blinn
Sorry for the incomplete review, I wrote this a while back with the intention of finishing later, but never did so there are a few holes in what I wrote below.

It's Big Cat Week on the NatGeo Wild television channel, and I'm watching a program called "The Unlikely Leopard". It follows a young African leopard in Botswana, telling the story of his mother's attempt to raise him and his subsequent coming of age. With the warm menace of the evil Uncle Scar from "The Lion King", the narrator opens the
Dec 09, 2011 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In Monster of God, Quammen explores the stories of four dangerous alpha predators: the lions of Gir (India), crocodiles (Australia), bears (Romania), and the Amar tiger (Siberia). Quammen mixes regional history and anthropology, the history of man-animal interaction and current environmental policy and practice into his travelogue. While Quammen is keenly interested in people's interactions with and attitudes about animals, there is surprisingly little about the animals themselves (ethology, eco ...more
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David Quammen (born February 1948) is an award-winning science, nature and travel writer whose work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Outside, Harper's, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times Book Review; he has also written fiction. He wrote a column called "Natural Acts" for Outside magazine for fifteen years. Quammen lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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“Among the earliest forms of human self-awareness was the awareness of being meat.” 11 likes
“Als de hemel donker wordt met zwarte donderwolken, de grote bomen zwaaien in de wind, de pauwen zingen, hunker ik ernaar terug te rennen naar Gir.” 1 likes
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