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The New York TimesMr. Quammen, who wrote a science column for Outside magazine for many years, is able to make highly complex biological and ecological dynamics readily accessible to lay readers, while at the same time regaling us with what initially sound like stream of consciousness musings on such disparate matters as the relationship between authoritarian governments and alpha predator populations; the existential terror of being attacked by a crocodile; the dentition of various sorts of carnivores; the contentious relationship between tigers and dogs; and the attitude colonizing powers tend to take toward native wildlife.
But as the book progresses, the reader begins to realize that such musings are less digressions for the sake of digression than illuminating asides that underscore the marvelous complexity of nature, its fragile system of checks and balances, and the domino-like effect that change and flux can have on its intricate machinery. — Michiku Kakutani