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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  765 ratings  ·  103 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,
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Pantheon
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 this
Lolly's Library
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Lee Anne
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: done, non-fiction
This book is not "Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks". It is more "Travels Through All the Ways Humans are Trying to Kill Off Sharks". I'm not sure why Eilperin wrote this book other than to maybe cash in on Shark Week hoopla. Whatever the reason, I wish she hadn't written it and I wish I hadn't read it. I kept reading hoping she'd get to something that didn't make me want to throw the book across the room but it never happened. Just killing sharks and more killing sharks.
Alex Telander
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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,
Paul Pessolano
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
“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
John Hood
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sean Chick
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This is less a book about sharks than it is Eilperin's travels talking with shark experts and the occasional fisherman. The parts dealing more directly with the sharks are the parts I liked best, such as sharks in world mythology, shark sex, and other topics. Many of the activists and/or scientists she speaks with come across as dull and even nauseatingly self-righteous. When they did not it made for decent reading but I wanted to read more about sharks than people. Perhaps this though is less ...more
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature, ocean
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 ...more
Eva Seyler
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
Jun 15, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audio
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.
May 17, 2015 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!
Ann Rufo
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
To me, sharks come in only second to alligators as the animal I am so terrified of that I have instructed my husband in a time of attack to shot me, not the animal. I don't want live through that shit. Sharks rank second not because they are less terrifying than alligators, but only because my landlocked Midwestern unadventurous ways make it less likely I will ever cross paths with them, unlike alligators which seem to be showing up all over the place lately instead of staying in Florida with ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Fred Dameron
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
A really good look at our fears. Fear is the only reason we, humans, kill sharks. The fear is primal and the image is Peter Benchley's book Jaws and the Spielberg movie of the same. Yes if a human swimmer, surfer, diver etc runs into a great white it's likely to end badly for the human. But we Aren't on the menu for them. We don't have enough fat on us like a harbor seal does and swim trunks aren't tasty. This book is about the damage we have done to them. These king's of the sea loose seven ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Chapter 1: a reprint of a halfway-decent magazine article. Perfect by itself. Chapters 2-n (I didn't bother to count): some other half-written nonsense justifying the decision to charge money for what was already published; more adjectives than content words; lightly-researched science; and whatever else is in there that I didn't have the heart to read. Advice to author: calling something fascinating, amazing, enlightening, etc. over and over doesn't make it true. Don't tell people what to feel ...more
Hannah Givens
I'm already on board with the conservation message, so I skipped a lot of the journalism. Even doing that, there was enough anthropology, history, and science to keep me interested, teach me things I didn't know, and provide many fun facts to add to my shark repertoire. It's especially good because it's not just science, or shark attack stories, or whatever -- there are things here you don't see in the run-of-the-mill shark book.
Christine D
Well researched and decently written but slightly repetitive.
This book came out seven years ago, I think then it was revelatory in bringing all this information about sharks' decline to the forefront in one book, but now, with the thirty year anniversary of shark week, most of this information is out there.
But, to those who do not have knowledge of these issues and want to familiarize themselves, this would be a good start.
Mel Rei
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're an adult and interested in sharks it's surprisingly difficult to find a book for your age group. I would highly recommend this one about the fascinating fish humans love to hate. Well written, global perspective, variety of topics and species. Highlights the fact that sharks are endanger of humans, more than the other way around, without over beating the point home.
April Whitehead
Enjoyable, in-depth look at sharks. Did not capture my attention as much as I thought it would - probably because of the structure of the book. It moves from topic to topic instead of following a chronology or narrative.
Bonnie Ferrara
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting look at how humans and sharks have interacted throughout history and currently. It really demonstrates how powerfully humans have affected this Earth and what the consequences could be
Katie Lewandowski
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
More of a cultural perspective on our fear of sharks than I expected, but worth a read, nonetheless.
Megan McCloud
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
2.5. Fiiiiinally finished it. Some chapters were more interesting than others.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
If you like sharks, the ocean, any type of fish, or just want to learn - READ THIS BOOK (or listen to audio). It's amazing. I am definitely going to reread at some point and make more notes.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent enough take on sharks, but it didn't really contribute a unique voice or viewpoint on the subject in any way. And it is already fading from my memory.
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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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