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Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators
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Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,770 ratings  ·  150 reviews
A provocative look at how the disappearance of the world's great predators has upset the delicate balance of the environment, and what their disappearance portends for the future, by an acclaimed science journalist.

It wasn't so long ago that wolves and great cats, monstrous fish and flying raptors ruled the peak of nature's food pyramid. Not so anymore. All but exterminate
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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4.20  · 
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 ·  1,770 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, MAYBE I'm a bit biased because, well, my husband did write this book BUT I just finished the advance reading copy
and it's fabulous.

I'm not a non-fiction sort of reader (and this is non-fiction) but--as his editor at Bloomsbury mentioned--he has managed to build characters and plot into this story of the world we live in which is missing many (most) of its big predators.

And who'd have thought that there might be a connection between serious issues such as missing pollinators, lyme disease,
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
Five stars! Where the Wild Things Were is a must read book on species conservation. It is a very well written and researched book. Stolzenberg’s reporting and history on numerous vanishing apex predators and resulting overpopulation of prey is balanced and measured.

This is the first “science for the masses” book that I have read that, in detail, covers the effect of over abundant prey fauna (due to lack of predators) and the devastating effect on flora.

There is an intriguing chapter on overabun
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I am overjoyed that I was able to snag this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Now that I've finished reading it, I am not a bit less pleased.

Frankly, my good feelings about this book really got started the moment I received it in the mail, where it surprised me by arriving less than two weeks after I was notified of winning a copy. When I tore open the package and spilled the book out in my hands, I was struck at just how pretty it was. Judging by its cover, perhaps? Maybe. But I
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lauren by: SEED magazine
The authors' style really resonated with me. He describes large earth-shattering revelations with such eloquence. Starting with the thesis that the death/extinction of predators and "super"predators are to blame for many ecological/environmental, he delves into numerous case studies and ongoing research of many leading biologists. The first chapters discussion of the kelp forests along the Pacific rim was particularly interesting, and made a real case for the rest of the book: ecosystems MUST be ...more
Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable book. However, for a book that was supposed to present ecology to the masses, it cited a lot of papers and scientists without applying much of the science to everyday life. The author oversimplified in an effort to appeal to everyone. For example, Stolzenberg discusses the eradication of feral cats to restore bird habitats and how it worked flawlessly. Then, while I was reading this book, scientists revealed that their attempts to eradicate feral cats on Macquerie Island in ...more
Richard Reese
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For the first billion years of life on Earth, all of our ancestors were single celled. One day, we aren’t sure why, a hungry organism ate a delicious bystander, and became the first predator. Predation inspired evolution to become very creative. Some organisms became mobile by developing cilia or tails. Others shape shifted into multi-celled life forms. Critters developed scales, spikes, shells, fangs, and many other clever defenses. Thus, one group survived by dining on the unlucky, and the big ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This book got better once I had adjusted to the writing style. There was a lot of flourishment where I don't think it was needed, but that's a personal preference for me.

I learned a lot from this book about the vital role predators play in our ecosystems and how humans have thrown the many delicate balances of nature out of wack. No surprises there.

Not a book for everyone but, if you are interested in the topic and pick it up, my recommendation is to stick with it.
Tippy Jackson
This is now one of my favorite ecology books ever! It is incredibly engaging and has vitally important information. What is the role of top predators in an ecosystem? What happens when they are removed? I've heard of classic stories-such as the sea otters, sea urchins and kelp forest example, or the missing wolves, too many deer, death by disease and starvation example. And these are two of the many studies that come up-however they were presented with such depth that I felt like I was learning ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: black
I put off buying this book for a while, because of the title. There is a certain kind of science book which I am really tired of, and the title made it look like it was this kind of book. That kind, is the sort wherein you are told with every paragraph, for a few hundred pages, that We Are All Doomed.

I don't even necessarily disagree (all that much) with the premise. I just don't see a reason to read a book about it. Despite much posturing to the contrary, it is not within the power of an indivi
When we look at the extinction of a species, there is an innate curiosity of our human minds to ask why. This book is a compilation of research and thoughts that have accumulated for quite a while regarding the role of predators in ecology. While Stolzenburg writes with a powerful prose, the subject matter is no-nonsense. What is the role of predators... including that of the human predator?

Stolzenburg starts the story at his beginning to explain his motivation for searching this topic mo
Todd Martin
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
“Where the Wild Ones Were” makes the argument that large carnivores have a significant affect on the health of ecosystems and that their systematic eradication has contributed to environmental degradation. Examples provided include:
1) Otter hunting led to a proliferation of anemones which led to the collapse of oceanic kelp forests.
2) Eradication of wolves and mountain lions led to explosions in deer populations which subsequently degraded forests through overgrazing.
In each case, degradation o
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. The first part of this book was a little rough for me – it just felt a little unorganized and tedious. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was invested by the middle of the book. The chapters became laid out quite well, each one illustrating the significance of a particular predator. The wolves at Yellowstone was definitely one of the “sexier” stories, but I also enjoyed about reading the coyotes in CA, mountain lions at Zion, and the otters and the kelp forests. They were a ...more
Breanna Green
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's one thing I've noticed that seems to run amok in nature-based books, and that's that they all seem to read like one giant scientific article. No matter how interesting the subject, it can make it difficult to wade through. William Stolzenburg does not have this problem. As the second book of his I have read, I was excited to start this one, and I was not left disappointed. Among the various tales of experiments and public critiques to management plans is the artistic skill of writing tha ...more
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was great book filled with interesting facts about predators. The section on Killer Whales is awesome and amazing - I read parts aloud to my room mate because I could not believe what I was reading and had to share how awesome these animals are.
The book is about predators and their importance in the ecosystem. It has a chapter about Yellowstone National Park and the reintroduction of wolves which was a great read. Stolzenburg is a wildlife journalist and he has a very good narration making
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fascinating synopsis of the recent research into the importance of predators -- especially the large predators -- in ecosystems. Very little was understood about this subject until very recently. Most of the research described in this book was done in just the past 20 years. The return of wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho is currently demonstrating what significant, amazing, and often unexpected differences healthy packs of large predators can have on the overall health of an ecosystem. A ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
I am about half way through and this book is stirring up all my long held naturalist tendencies and secret desire to be a biologist when i grow up. Loving it. I have a feeling this has opened a can of worms, out of which will parade a host of other to-read nature/science books.

This book was excellent. I am all about reading more like it very soon.
I am just starting this one(Thanks goodreads for the free copy :).
I don't know too much about the subject, but someone was just complaining to me about how as a rancher he cannot shoot coyotes anymore(with a definite attitude of 'I'll do it anyway'). **cringe**
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was a very thought provoking book A little hard to get into but then enjoyed all the different stories. I especially enjoyed the Epilogue as it seems so true today.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Second favourite natural history book ever!
P.J. Lee
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Simply essential for all sentient homo sapiens
Ian Mullet
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this book is really, really, really... good.
Meenatchi Odai
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the nonfiction novel, Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators, published in the year 2008, William Stolzenburg explains about how the lack of big predators like wolves and grizzly bears affects all ecosystems in a shocking way. The beginning half of the novel covers the history of how scientists from all walks of life compiled their knowledge together to prove that predators are paramount for the survival of ecosystems and, in the long ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is AMAZING!!!
I had to slow my brain down to really take in this book. This is not something I would normally read but it "called to me across the crowded library" 😉 and I'm so glad I answered!
This book is really important! I know it's not really the type of book that appeals to many people, but it should! It shows what happens when you remove apex predators from their environments.
We tend to think the world would be a better place with less things that could eat us, our children or ou
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was so good I had to take a breather before writing a review.

I have always been a person who thought predators were a HUGE ecological player in nature and right here is the book that puts all the papers, studies, players and proof they are.

Very well researched and might as well be a history book on the subject.

The author isn't bland and his style of writing made it easy to enjoy. I honestly can't say enough about this book. I'm afraid to loan it out but want everyone I know to read it.
Al Clark
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't particularly enjoy the writing per se, but did like the information. Could have benefitted from an editor pulling out the idiosyncrasies of an odd journalistic style. It's like Maureen Dowd wrote a couple sentences in each of the early chapters.

I understand from outside reading that the theories described in the book have some very strong critics, and that the function of predation in an ecosystem is still very much an active research topic. This is a good entry point for a total layman
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for my Bird Club Book Club, and reading it was both interesting and depressing. One of the pleasures of the book was reading the author's well-constructed prose. I liked his chapters about predators all over the world and the fate of the environment when people kill them off. I learned a lot about animals and think a mountain lion in my neighborhood might not be such a bad idea.
Imani Shields
May 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book at all. It did not capture my attention and I found the content similar to that of a textbook's. I am aware that I maybe the wrong audience for this book. The author used words that were hard to understand and didn't do anything to help keep my attention. I do believe that the content of the book is important and that people should know about it, I just think it could have been executed better.
Matt Vandermeulen
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Does a great job at bringing in the scientific studies that were conducted to enforce the conclusions being made in this book. An excellent read for someone interested to understand ecology and trophic cascades, and the effects of disrupting the environment (with focus on predators in this book of course).
Michelle Jones
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great read!
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Species conservation...this is a thought provoking book where the lessons learned in real-time research need to have a broader audience. Go wolves !
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Nature Literature: Where the Wild Things Were discussion 7 18 Nov 30, 2016 05:25PM  
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