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am 2. Mai 2000
Since childhood I've been intrigued with undiscovered places, animals, and mysteries. It was with a flush of excitement that I saw the giant pink squid complete with hubcap eye staring out at me from the nature bookshelf. It beckoned to come and read about the search for this elusive creature. Visions of the medieval woodblock of the Kraken demolishing a ship danced in my head. I am ashamed to admit that I was indeed hoping for some Benchley-esque anecdotal stories of fishermen battling against this 60 foot long monster, but of course that wasn't to be. Ellis produces a very scholarly, disciplined, non-tabloid <grin> detective novel, describing the previous sightings and ultimate resting places for the carcasses. Much of the writing is speculative since none of these animals have been captured or observed in the wild. The famous mythos of sperm whale battles at great depths are examined, as are the earliest recorded wash-ups on shore. It is a pity that more information has not surfaced about their eating and living patterns. But again, what little information there is available is presented well, and it becomes clear that Ellis is quite enamored with this mysterious denizen of the murky depths. I do agree however with some of the other reviews, that this information could have been distilled into a serialized article in a nature magazine or similar. It's rather eerie and actually scary to consider Ellis' description of these giants, hanging motionless in the dark ocean forever watching with their unblinking eyes, waiting for the chance to dine. Overall, an interesting read, which should lead one to perk up their ears if there is ever a report of one of these beasts being captured or observed in the wild.
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am 21. April 2000
I'm really torn about this one. On the one hand, I don't think that this is book that lay people can enjoy; we simply know too little about Architeuthis to satisfy the general public. On the other hand, as a specialist, I found what information there was to be really interesting. The sad fact is that although the giant squid is a very enigmatic organism, we simply haven't been able to acquire much information about it. By this I mean we know VERY little about the giant squid. Most of the ecological data we do have comes from gut content analysis of whale stomachs or dissections of semi-rotting carcasses. We don't have enough information about Architeuthis to satsify scientists, let alone the general pubilic. That said, however, this was an excellent review of the information that is available about giant squids. It's hard to get this type of information, in a digestable format, about most organisms. Sadly, though, I think this work should have been published in a journal, perhaps the American Scientist, rather than being published as a mass consumption book. My overall conclusion is: if your a lay person, stay clear you likely won't get much out of this; if your a specialist go for it! It's cheap and a handy reference. Don't be too excited about the section on squid ecology, however, it's not particularly detailed and there are much better reviews elsewhere.
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am 5. Dezember 1999
This is a disappointing book, even though I have been fascinated with giant squids all my life. Did those reviewers designating it so exciting on the cover and frontispiece actually read the book? There simply is not enough known about this animal to fill a book for the general public, and thus Ellis has to fill it out with exhaustive accounts of every carcass found, technical information on other squid genera that is only of interest to other squid specialists, and a chapter on squid display models which, well researched though it is, really is not the kind of thing one buys a book to learn about at such length. Ellis also needed a better editor -- there is a little too much repetition. Ellis' MONSTERS OF THE SEA was great, but there really isn't enough more here about Architeuthis to justify a separate book, and one cannot help suspecting that this one is designed to take advantage of the particular market value of this marvelous creature. Ellis did us a great service with the previous book; this one, however, really is not worth it unless you are a teuthologist.
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am 12. Dezember 1998
This is a wonderful book. It combines fascinating facts and figures on one of the world's most mysterious creatures with the spooky attraction of a ghost story. I've been intrigued by the giant squid ever since I first learned that it really existed when I was little, and I bought this book as soon as it came out. Not only is it scientific and scholarly in structure, but Mr. Ellis writes with humor and wit throughout, and in consequence you can learn and enjoy it at the same time. In fact, although the book is clearly intended for adult readers, I would not hesitate to recommend it for students and older children, since the eerie attraction of a story about a slimy monster from the deep is pretty irresistible at any age (I wish the book had come out when I was a child), and the fact that the "monster" really exists makes it all the more fascinating.
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am 26. Juni 2000
I liked this book. Granted, there is very little is known about this wonderful creature. At times it seemed like the author was just trying to fill pages but with the giant squid, you have to do something. I liked that he did go into how the animal was discovered and how our knowledge of giant squid has developed through time. This is undoubtly one of the coolest sea creatures in the world, so it was nice to get a pretty thorough story. He does describe some of the many other squids, I liked that because he gives you a feel for how diverse and cool squids are. It did get a little slow towards the end but I was still very pleased with the book overall. This book gives a very complete treatment of this legendary beast.
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am 4. Juni 1999
This book covers a lot of information dating back quite far. The fact that extremely little is known about the Giant Squid makes the length of the book somewhat impressive. However, Ellis is not the best proofreader; he includes a fairly significant quote twice in three pages almost verbatim. His summary of the Squid in Literature and Film becomes fairly personal as he takes potshots at other historic authors. And his summary of Squid Models, while detailed, is a bit strange; substitute Train Models for Squid Models and the chapter becomes only slightly less relevant. This may have been included because it was a canned piece.
The book is not nearly as good as I thought it would be, but it has its moments.
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am 3. Juli 2001
This must be one of the most interesting books I encountered in a long time. Richard Ellis always manages to present facts with fun - he truly is one of the very best writers for science books today.
Not only that the informations in the text are very dense (considering the nature of the subject, that is) - the book is written in such an intelligent, witty and pleasing style that it is simply a great read.
When it comes to the mysteries of the giant squids, there is surely no comparable book around. Do yourself a favour and get this one, you won't regret it. Even when giant squids might not be your highest interest, I promisse you enjoy reading this one!
Highly recommended!
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am 31. März 1999
Richard Ellis takes us on a voyage of wonder and discovery in this book that is as big as the giant squid. His passion for this creature, unknown to science and a monster of folklore until recently, certainly issues from each page. Ellis's gathering of rare and old images of this beast is worth the reference nature of the work itself, but his text just makes it all that more valuable. Being a cryptozoologist myself, I highly recommend this volume as a vital and necessary addition to every public library, all students of natural history, and the cryptozoologists around the world. You will not be disappointed.
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am 20. November 1999
This interesting book was almost more than I wanted to know about our current knowledge of the giant squid. Almost.The thing that made the biggest impression on me [and it was not a good one] was the sailor who stabbed the eye of a large squid. I just don't understand that kind of reaction to something unknown. If the giant squid were a real threat to mankind no one would go near the water.I shudder when I think of the brutal ways we have treated other members of the animal world. It is a good pick-up and put-down book. I read it at night in bed and it never kept me awake.
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am 30. Juli 2000
As a scientist, I had 2 objections. On p.48, he continues the myth that eyes of cephalopods and higher vertebrates exhibit the principe of "convergence." In fact, the eyes of mollusks, arthropods, & vertebrates derive from the PAX-6 gene, which has been highly conserved in evolution. This is NOT convergence... Ellis, p.241, confuses Insecta with Arachnida, when he describes the former has having "eight eyes." This is a confusion in taxonomy on his part.
-F.M. Sturtevant, Ph.D.
Sarasota, FL
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