“Engaging. . . . A far-ranging voyage through the shark world.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A compelling book: Its author not only knows all about her subject but she knows how readers think about it. . . . The main impression left by Demon Fish is that sharks are indeed all they are cracked up to be—and more.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Reveals the close relationship between humans and sharks through the interplay of history and culture. . . . By the end of Demon Fish, readers may be tempted to don a wet suit and go hug a shark.”
—The New York Times
“Eilperin circles the world in pursuit of sharks and the people who love and hate them. . . whether they are killers or protectors, she tells their stories with fairness and understanding. I forgot the time as I immersed myself in the world of sharks. . . . Whether you’ve never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you.”
—Callum Roberts, The Washington Post
“Fascinating and meticulously reported book. . . . Eilperin illuminates not only the hidden nature of the seas, but also the societies whose survival depend on them.”
—David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
“For this inclusive and important book, Eilperin traveled around the world to find people who study, fish for, dive with, venerate, or have been attacked by sharks. . . . [she] discusses many others who have brought sharks into human consciousness—Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and Jacques Cousteau; to this list, we must now add Eilperin herself.”
—Richard Ellis, The American Scholar
“Hate, fear, envy, awe, worship. Of the many shark books, precious few explore the human-shark relationship. And none do with such style as Juliet Eilperin does in this fact-packed, fast-paced narrative. This is the shark book for the person who wants to understand both what sharks are, and what sharks mean. Bite into it.”
—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
“Eilperin investigates the greatest threats to sharks: the shark fin trade and the ecological and economic forces affecting shark populations. . . The book is certainly timely. And Demon Fish does the subject justice.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Poised to be one of the summer’s most compelling beach reads.”
“In this wide-ranging natural history of shark-human relations, the author recounts frank interviews with an entertaining cast of scientists, fishermen, wholesalers, chefs, and eco-tour operators, all of whom have a stake in the survival of the oceans’ top predators. She also gets into the water with the sharks. For readers who like passionate investigative reporting.”
Eilperin is an unobtrusive and balanced guide. She has a deft hand with cameo descriptions of the people she meets on her travels…Whether they are killers or protectors, she tells their stories with fairness and understanding. I forgot the time as I immersed myself in the world of sharks. Whether you've never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you.
The Washington Post
Humans kill 73 million sharks to supply fins for soup and have depleted populations worldwide and disrupted ecosystem balance in various ocean environments. Eilperin, an environmental reporter for the Washington Post and a scuba diver, describes her travels throughout Asia, South Africa, and the United States in search of shark information and folklore. She tasted shark soup in China and found it bland. There is also illegal trade in sharks in demand by aquariums in casinos and resorts. The author provides a well-written overview of current and past attitudes toward sharks and discusses shark species, physiology, genetics, reproduction, evolution, navigation, and attacks on swimmers. Because sharks swim so fast and are hard to spot underwater, tracking them for scientific purposes is difficult and costly. VERDICT Eilperin's adventures will entertain general readers and high school and college students. For systematic treatment of shark behavior, size, and distribution of the various species, consider such works as Thomas B. Allen's The Shark Almanac or Doug Perrine's well-illustrated Sharks and Rays of the World.—Judith B. Barnett, Univ. of Rhode Island Lib., Kingston
Washington Postenvironmental reporter Eilperin (Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives, 2006) travels the globe to explore the complex relationship between sharks and humans, issuing a passionate call for the protection of these diverse and majestic creatures.
Sharks inspire fear, writes the author, but as many people know, it's largely groundless: "you are more likely to die from lightning, a bee sting, or an elephant's attack than from a shark's bite." Yet this fear, along with commercial pressures, is driving some species to extinction. Before we feared them, sharks played important religious roles in societies from the Mayan empire to communities in the Niger Delta region. Eilperin witnessed the modern-day practice of "shark calling," in which Papua New Guineans perform religious rituals and then catch sharks using lures and snares. (The practice is not wholly symbolic, as the meat is eaten and the fins sold.) Shark's fin soup is an important symbol of wealth in China; however, after eating it, Eilperin calls it "one of the greatest scams of all time, an emblem of status whose most essential ingredient adds nothing of material value to the end product." Nonetheless, shark populations are collapsing in part due to the commercial value of fins. Unfortunately, the author provides little clarity about which human activities (such as sport fishing and finning) have the most significant impacts on shark populations. Moreover, the booktreats sharks as too monolithic, doing little to explain which particular species face the gravest threats. But Eilperin is convincing in her argument that many species will go extinct if current practices continue. She is optimistic about certain alternatives, like the shark-watching expeditions she saw in a Mexican village, where former fisherman now make their living guiding eco-tourists. With alternatives like this and the possibility of international agreements, Eilperin concludes that all hope is not lost for the shark.
A general but solid primer on the state of sharks today and a plea for their protection.