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Michael SimsLavers beautifully demonstrates what natural science and cultural history can show each other about the origins of enduring myths. Rigorous but never stodgy, precise without becoming arid, he has a lot of fun in these pages while pursuing one of the favorite beasts of mythology…Lavers keeps his intellectual detective story passionate and suspenseful. Illuminated by his erudition, symbol-rich scenes that have darkened to opacity over time turn translucent again. We see through museums' carved horns and faded tapestries and into the world that inspired them. Lavers shows us the parade of beasts wild and tame, familiar and exotic; the unforeseen side-effects of co-opting other culture's stories; the mistranslations and deliberate distortions; and most of all, in a world tormented by ignorance and violence and disease, the yearning for magic.
—The Washington Post