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The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,746 ratings  ·  773 reviews
Susan Casey was in her living room when she first saw the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands, just twenty-seven miles off the coast of San Francisco.

In a matter of months, Casey went to the Farallon Islands to join Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the island's one habitable building. Two days later, she
Paperback, 291 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Owl Books (NY) (first published 2005)
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May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
P.C. Parn
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
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Marian Deegan
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
J.C. Antonelli
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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. ...more
Elizabeth A
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
David Carr
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't usually read a whole heck of a lot of non-fiction; however, I mediate the non-fiction book club at work, so I've necessarily had to branch out from my genre junkie ways. Happily, I loved my most recent foray into the non-fiction world and I can't wait to discuss with my book club.

The Devil's Teeth is part investigative journalism and part travelogue. On the surface this book promises to be a fascinating look at great white sharks. I was expecting bloody shark attacks, and to an extent I
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jeannie Walker
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: delete
I couldn’t agree more with John Steinbeck’s words - “An Ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep.”
Not many of us have had the opportunity to smell a shark attack - and yes it does have it own odor just like the smell of death has its own odor.
To be honestly frank with you - non-fiction books are my favorite to read.
I really liked the realistic and descriptive way the author pulls us into her world - what she saw - what she experienced. Susan Casey gives us w
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oh, Sharks. You are so very cool.
The only problem with this book is that I care not a whit for anything that happens to Susan Casey that does not involve watching Great White sharks decapitate seals. I would have rather read a book called "Stories of Shark sightings over the years at the Farallon Islands". Those are the most compelling parts of this book, when the shark researchers recount stories about the sharks. The rest of it is mainly about what a pain it was for Casey to live on a boat, m
Cindy Brown Ash
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Kayt O'Bibliophile
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
Diane in Australia
I liked this book ... not too sure I would like the author, though. Her actions caused severe, negative repercussions for the biologists, and the research program.

The parts where she focuses on the sharks, the history of the islands, and local characters, was good. The parts that focus the spotlight on Susan ... who is a bit of a drama queen ... not so good.

If you like sharks, if you like learning a bit of history, then you'll find things in the book to enjoy.

The following spoiler will enlighten
Jeremy Forstadt
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
THE DEVILS TEETH is an exceptionally well-written account of the Farallon Islands and, in particular, the white shark research project that has been based there over the past several decades. Susan Casey profiles Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, two biologists who have been leading shark research at the islands which are located just 27 miles due west of San Francisco. She also documents her own (ultimately disastrous) experiences gaining access to the islands which are largely prohibited to the pu ...more
Rocci Doria
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
A friend recommended this to me (at the same time he recommended Into the Wild, which throws his trustworthiness into ambiguity), I think partly because we’re both from the Bay Area and the Farallon Islands are a sort of ghostly, mythical landmark known to surprisingly few of the natives. I knew them because my whole family used to fish, and when you go rock fishing out of the SF Bay in a party boat, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll end up bobbing around those jagged rocks for a few hours. Eve ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. There is no doubt that Susan Casey is an incredibly talented writer and it shows here. While it's hard to make a subject like great whites and a forbidding set of nearly uninhabitable islands boring, she could have very well written a bad book. She didn't. I'm torn about being judgy here because it's well worth the read and my details are going to make it sound like Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, which it's not.

Casey is certainly not your everywoman - in the beginning I would emp
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Kristy McCaffrey
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Farallon Islands—a rocky and barren chain of jutting, granite peaks—sit just 27 miles from the San Francisco coastline. A handful of biologists reside in this remote outpost to study the bird, pinniped, and shark populations. Every fall, great white sharks arrive to feed on the local seal population and Ms. Casey delves into the research undertaken in the surrounding waters. It’s a story of grit and terror, and a testament to how little we know about these fascinating and monstrous creatures ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dean Hamilton
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"When a two-ton animal takes a taste of you, it doesn't do much good to apologize." - Peter Benchley

25 miles from where customers order tall lattes and casually sip cappachino's in Ghirardelli Square amid the noisy commerce of Fisherman's Wharf, a 400-million year old predator hunts.

The Devil's Teeth is a gripping and voraciously readable piece of work that looks at the Great White Sharks of the Farallon Islands, nicknamed The Devil's Teeth. A ragged, storm-tossed and desolate set of islands loc
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Entertaining book despite the self absorbed author/journalist. A bonus is the book isn't exclusively about sharks but you learn the history and treacherous nature of the Farallones. Interesting side stories on the market for Farallon bird eggs as a food source for San Francisco. An anecdote on the resiliency of squid. Who knew? Several reviews are overly critical on the author's personal notes on the male researchers but it made the book more interesting adding the human element to it. This book ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Yes, Casey is a polarizing force. On one hand she has written a gripping and informative book about the shark research project and the Farallones themselves. On the other hand, she wrought a lot of damage on the very project she so admired. However, how many mainstream books are out there that deal with Great White sharks in such a positive light and in such an accessible way? How many authors are out there trying to enlighten the rest of us about creatures we spend most of our lives trying NOT ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tired of the BS recycled "documentaries" they are showing on shark week these days (aka megalodon)? Want some real mind-blowing and true stories about sharks? Then you need to read The Devil's Teeth by the fearless Susan Casey.

She offers such incredible insight into the lives of two men who live, breath and research sharks on the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. You would never think such carnage shared the same area code as Golden Gate Park! Great details about the rese
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bear with me as this is going to be something of an odd review, inasmuch as I'll be using it to compare two completely unrelated books, neither of which has anything to do with the subject of my short essay. Susan Casey's The Devil's Teeth is ostensibly about great white sharks and the Farallon Islands: a windswept, bird-festooned archipelago off the coast of San Francisco that's the shark equivalent of a grocery store gumball machine. Nature only has to bop it to pop out a tasty seal or sea lio ...more
Tanja Berg
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A mostly enjoyable read that revolves around the author - a journalist - and her obsession with visiting the forbidding Farallon islands in shark season. The Farallon islands are now a bird sanctuary. Every year during fall, white sharks congregate here. The book revolves around the history of the islands, birds, and great white sharks. It's fairly interesting for most part, but the obsession with great whites - for all their magnificence - is a little bit difficult to understand.

I certainly wo
April Kyle Nassi
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I was expecting to hate this; even though I have really enjoyed other of Casey's books. What I had seen in reviews was that she acted recklessly during the research phase of the book and destroyed a program. I was expecting that she would do something that I would hate her for. Instead, I found a story about her getting involved in a shark research program, in which the leaders of that program made a decision which had some unfortunate consequences. But none of it Susan's fault alone - I'm not s ...more
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