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Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind (Englisch) Taschenbuch – September 2004

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  • Taschenbuch: 528 Seiten
  • Verlag: Blue Guides Limited; Auflage: Revised. (September 2004)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 9780393326093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393326093
  • ASIN: 0393326098
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14,2 x 2,5 x 21,1 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 419.161 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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As the subtitle of David Quammen's Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind suggests, his fascination centers on those animals that raise human "awareness of being meat," and he likens the historic impact of these predators to modern-day car accidents: sudden, unexpected, life-changing. While his research is extraordinary--encompassing extensive field work and diverse reading on the science and lore surrounding predatory animals--Quammen's peripatetic mind jumps from history to psychology to ecology and from Africa to Russia to Australia, sometimes leaving his readers without a base camp to recuperate during the breath-taking journey.

His research on the lions of Gir forest in India, on the crocodiles of Northern Australia, on the bears of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, and on the Siberian tigers of Far East Russia finds animals held in constant tension, encircled by every-expanding human populations. But Quammen doesn't oversimplify the conflicts. Often, in fact, Quammen has so much to say about competing interests that he makes several false starts before finding his true theme. Recalling his reading in the l970s literature on crocodiles in Africa, for example, Quammen abruptly jumps to a failed farming and reintroduction project begun in India before finally settling into the investigation of Northern Australia's Crocodylus Park.

These changes in geography, time, and perspective can be disorienting in a book that is already complicated by its several competing approaches. Adding to the abundance, Quammen explores human population growth projections, images of the Leviathan in the Bible, keystone species theory, the Muskrat hypothesis (the idea that the "wastage parts" of an animal species are the ones most likely to suffer predation), and the 1994 discovery of the Chauvet cave paintings. Yet Quammen, author of The Soing of the Dodo moves with such ease through this wilderness of ideas that even the most difficult material becomes palatable. --Patrick O’Kelley -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


He sees both sides of the equation, which environmentalists still tend to frame in terms of good animals versus evil people....Insatiably curious, level-headed and amazingly erudite. "

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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Client d'Amazon am 2. Februar 2004
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This was my first encounter with David Quammen. In fact, I am not even a regular reader of books on nature or conservation.
Any David Quammen reader could probably have told me that this book is far more than that.
The synopsis of the book gives a fairly good impression of content so I won't repeat its elements here.
The book shines for other reasons:
- it is wonderfully well written, the author's dry sense of humour combines with a totally enviable knack for stating things vividly and simply, without any pathos.
- the questions it poses on our future on this planet without large predators are fascinating. Are there rational arguments to be made for the conservation of large and potentially dangerous predators? Who pays the cost for protecting them? Why should anyone miss a few tigers (bears, crocodiles or lions)? Could even a total absence of large predators make a negative difference to a large part of the population?
As a bonus this is a beautifully human travel book, highlighting encounters with many different and fascinating characters and, far fewer, animals.
Chances are, this book will leave you thinking for a long time after you've (regretfully) put it down.
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23 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
exceptional book on mythology, history, and biology 12. November 2003
Von Tim F. Martin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I really enjoyed this exceptional book on the mythology, culture, history, and biology of man-eaters around the world. Though he primarily focuses on four specific animals - the Asiatic lion in the forest of Gir in India, the saltwater crocodile in northern Australia, the brown bear in the forests and mountains of Romania, and the Siberian (or more properly Amur) tiger of the Russian Far East- author David Quammen discusses other predators as well, such as the African lion, the grizzly of North America, the Nile crocodile, and the leopard as well as some now extinct species.
Quammen does an excellent job of covering just about any aspect you might wish to learn about animals that occasionally dine on man. Aspects of ecology are very well covered, introducing the reader to many key concepts in ecology (particularly as they relate to these creatures), such as the terms alpha predator, keystone species, and trophic cascades, showing that for a healty ecosystem - including healthy plants and prey animals - the presence of a viable population of predator is crucial. The education this book gave me on ecology was quite remarkable, with the author going into very readable detail on many issues and very interestingly their history as well, showing some of the personalities behind their conception. The individual biology and paleontology of each of the focus species in this book are well covered, as well as that of close and more distant relations, covering everything from the rise and fall of sabertooth mammals (feline and otherwise) to the spread of the tiger species throughout Asia (and its later evolution into various subspecies).
Equally interesting - and valuable - in this work Quammen goes into great detail about the interaction between humans and the top predators throughout world history as well as the situation to date. How have large predators - such as perhaps cave bears and cave lions - shaped the evolution (physically and culturally) of ancient peoples? How have such animals shaped the development of human art, literature, mythology, and religion? Quammen brings into this rather engrossing discussion everything from Babylonian epics to Beowulf to Tolkien.
Quammen does not only focus on the animals, but on their sometime victims as well. He looks at how have native peoples dealt with man-eaters in the past and how do traditional peoples deal with them today. Quammen is very sensitive to the lives of those who face (and occassionally feed) these predators, really bringing to life for the reader such diverse groups as the Malhadris of India, the Udege of Russia, and the shepherds of Romania. Quammen vividly contrasts this with looking at how has the coming of colonial enterprises and regimes (such as the British in India and Australia) changed interactions with local alpha predators.
Perhaps most importantly, this book asks what does the future hold for such predators? Will they always have a guaranteed place in the wild, outside of zoos and circuses? How can one make sure that they do? There is quite a debate raging on how to make sure that forests still stalk the snowy forests of the Russian Far East and the billabongs of steamy northern Australia and Quammen provides excellent coverage of all sides.
A very valuable and entertaining book, it has a very extensive bibilography as well. I highly recommend it.
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Biology confronts mythology . . . 30. September 2003
Von Stephen A. Haines - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
. . . and meet politics and globalisation. The encounter, reported by North America's foremost nature journalist, is an informative, exquisite read. Quammen's value in explaining Nature's realm is demonstrated by his many excellent works. This one achieves a new level of excellence as he travels the planet seeking that which we fear most - predators. Not just any predators, but what he terms the "alpha predators" - large, solitary and figures of fearful legend. Legends play a large role in how we view the rest of Nature. No matter how strenuously we try to separate ourselves from our environment, Quammen argues, it will return to confront us.
Quammen focuses on four predators in this account - the Asian lion, the crocodile, bears in Romania and "Siberian" tigers. Surrounded by humans and their legends and lifestyles, this quartette symbolises our conflicting views of animals with reputations as "man-eaters". Disdaining accusations of "sexist" or other cultural labels surrounding his terms, Quamman confronts us with the realities of human-predator interactions. Lions, which once roamed from Atlantic Europe to Eastern Asia, have been pushed into meagre enclaves outside of Africa. They, along with the crocodiles, bears and Amur tigers are surrounded by human neighbours. Quammen explains that the long-term human residents, the Mahldari in India, Aborigines of Australia, the Romanian shepherds and Ugede of Eastern Russia have formed accomodating
relationships with their proximate predator populations. The oft-repeated phrase is "don't bother them and they won't bother you".
Changes in political and economic forces, Quammen contends, bring changes to those relationships. While national governments may strive to protect these select species, local conditions are being overturned. Globalisation intrudes on local economic and political structures, changing market demands, resource allocation and use, and the lifestyles of both predators and their prey. Populations shift in response, habitats are invaded or destroyed and abrupt changes confront traditional lifestyles. These are adjustments forced within a lifetime, not over generations. Quammen shows how we must learn quickly and immediately before the damage from the changes are irreparable.
What role does a predator play in the natural order of life? Shouldn't we simply eliminate these "dangerous" lifeforms? Quammen's primary example seems wholly out of place at first glance. One researcher removed a predatory starfish from a section of beach near Seattle. The result, in a very short time, was a substantial shift in other species balance in the area. Quammen's own contacts among the topical predators' human neighbours echo the sentiment - remove the animals and the habitat follows. The impact is uncalcuable. The lesson is glaringly clear - we need these "ferocious" creatures to maintain the environment we inhabit.
Quammen departs from mainstream conservatism in this excellent study. The role of humanity may not be cast aside and species isolated for protection. He urges a role for hunting, for skins, for culling where needed. These activities, distasteful to some, can be beneficial when applied with informed controls. There are no simple answers to maintaining diversity. We must all be aware of the issues involved, and this book is a fine place to begin learning. Graced with a set of maps and an extensive bibliography, Monster of God is an important and erudite account. Put it at the top of your reading list. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Living with Lions 6. Januar 2004
Von Matthew Taylor - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book is amazing. As in it's predecessor, The Song of the Dodo, David Quammen acheives an amazing feat by combining science, travel stories, literature, history, and philosophy (and a sprinkling of pop culture) into a compelling discussion of the fate of what he calls "alpha predators" in this modern world. Quammen traveled to India to visit people living among lions (yes, lions), Australia to visit people living among crocodiles, Romania to visit people living with brown bears (who knew?), and the Russian Far East to visit people living with tigers. Each of these pieces is a distinct story by itself, with its own set of characters, yet Quammen sews them all together with common concerns about predators, prey, and who pays the price of having these alpha predators around. Sensitive to traditional cultures as he is to natural ecosystems, Quammen is a great writer producing unique literature that is important for our time.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Read Song of the Dodo first 23. Januar 2005
Von Wyote - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I've read most of Quammen's books, and I strongly recommend reading "Song of the Dodo" before this one. That is Quammen's best, and one of the greatest popular science books ever written, a thrilling, enlightening classic. This one is just ok.

This one has potential: exploring the habitats of "man-eating" predators, the mythology surrounding them, their place in human psychology, the struggle to preserve them and the questions in that struggle. It could be a fascinating book, and it is pretty darn good.

Quammen looks at the Asiatic Lion, which plays a prominent role in the Bible and the rest of ancient European and Near-Eastern culture. But today it only remains in a small and shrinking forest in western India. Quammen goes there and reports on the lifestyles of the people who live in and around that forest, and the chances for the lion's survival.

Then he moves to the saltwater crocodile, especially in Australia. Here he does a good job exploring the economic significance of the crocodile and the leather industry, and also on the relations of various aboriginal groups to the crocodile. He does not tell us much about the Australian government's role in conservation, although that must be signficant as well.

Next he turns to the grizzlies of Romania, called brown bears everywhere outside of North America. He gives a decent history of their popularity in Yellowstone and Glacier parks, and a great coverage of their place in Romanian forest management, sport hunting, and shepherding. Of course Ceaucescu forms the constant background to the story of the bears in Romania.

Finally he goes to the Russian Far East, around Vladivostok, to learn about the situation of the Siberian Tiger. (Not the white-tiger mutants in zoos.) Again he considers the way the traditional local inhabitants feel about the tigers. Here he could have given a better coverage of the Chinese medicine black market for tiger parts--a fascinating subject that hangs over the Siberian tiger, but Quammen barely touches it.

From there he turns to Beowulf, Gilgamesh and the Alien movies.

Quammen's worldview holds that we humans need an element of wildness, and that our technology and climate control is eliminating not only many beautiful, fascinating creatures but also an essential part of our psyche. He doesn't force his view on his readers, but it is obviously in the background.

I was a little disappointed with this book, honestly. I'm a big fan of Quammen, and I expected a lot; it's still better than most other pop-sci books out there. But I'd like to have a better sense of each of these animals' lives: what do they eat, how often do they reproduce, what parasites and diseases do they struggle with, what are the specific immediate and long-term threats to their survival? Moreover, he did a great job looking at Beowulf and Alien, and a pretty good job looking at Gilgamesh. I wish he'd thrown in a few more great monster myths, or myths that show other aspects of the animals he covered, such as the tiger as protector, as creator of the world, and so on. Finally, I wish he'd included a few more predators, especially the python and the Nile crocodile. I would happily have read an 800 page book if he'd written one. But I'm too much of a Quammen fan to deduct a star: the problem isn't that he wrote anything badly or made any mistakes, just that he didn't write enough.

12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Without these monsters, what will happen to life? 22. September 2003
Von D. Bakken - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Taking the reader on a voyage across the globe, David Quammen tries to distill the essence of man-eating predators down to something that people across the world can appreciate before it is too late.
Quammen focuses on four distinct predators: the asiatic lions of the Gir forest in India, the crocodiles of the Arnhem Land Reserve in Northen Australia, the brown bears of the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and the tigers of the Sikhote-Alin range in the Russian Far East. It is the predators, people and their interactions that make up most of the book. Sort of a travel narrative that focuses on the people and wildlife. The rest of the book contains Quammen's ruminations on the predator in human culture and literature (Beowulf, Gilgamesh, the Bible, the Alien movies, etc...).
Throughout the book, the reader gets the feeling that things are not going well for the predators and Quammen focuses on that at the end of the book. Predators are slowing going extinct, and due to their nature as "keystone species" (species whose small populations control the populations of other animals and fauna in their respective regions) could have an adverse effect on life across the world if they do disappear.
All around, this is a great book.
Highly Recommended!
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