Monday, December 15, 2008

What? Another book about sharks?

"Shark" is another shark book - but wait a minute: This slim paperback is the
best book about sharks I have ever read.

The author: Dean Crawford. He is not a shark "expert", not a marine biologist, not a shark diver. Dean just loves sharks deeply - as most of us do.

What makes this book truly outstanding is the read.

Dean is a literature professor and has done his home work in a scholarly way. That enabled him to cover a plethora of subjects with unrivalled elegance, wit, precision, and persuasion.

If you are a novice, the book will convert you into a sharkman or sharklady. You will either want to dive with sharks or do something to protect them - most likely you'll want to do both.

A confirmed shark fan would just thoroughly enjoy reading about a subject with which he / she is already familiar - or so believes.

You will be surprised how much you will learn while reading this fabulous book.

Let me quote a very eloquent reader comment:

5.0 out of 5 stars A convert, November 2, 2008
Sharks have had bad press. With this book, they finally have a skillful P.R. agent working for them. Dean Crawford loves sharks and wants us to like and help protect them. He asserts that sharks are merely "fish going about their business of prowling for and gobbling other fish life."

Let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed *Shark* - the grace and humor with which it's written and the details, how, for example, the membranes of a shark's eye operate while feeding and that some feed on "baby" elephant seals. I was taken aback that Dean, trying to evoke sympathy for the shark, came up, fully self-conscious, I'm certain, with the word "baby" instead of "young" seals. He must have figured, if you read on after that, you're ripe to take sharks to heart.

Then follows the picture and the horrible details of what happens to sharks when their fins are harvested for food. Who knew? Makes me want to become an activist.
And who knew that all current species of sharks date back to the Jurassic age? Anyone interested in dinosaurs and their classifications would want to latch on to that fact.

And who knew, certainly not I, that there are 450 species of sharks, most totally charming and innocuous, all endangered, "fish going about their business?" Only the GREAT WHITE is the TYRANNOSAURUS REX of sharks, and, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, can't be blamed for being a carnivore.
Even I, who had no particular affinity for sharks, after finishing this book, care deeply about them, though, I have to admit, not as deeply as Dean Crawford, who clearly adores them.

Most sharks are pretty homely. Bullhead sharks, at least from their picture, have faces only their mothers and Dean Crawford could love. He is never critical of sharks, continually talks about their "beauty" or extraordinary "engineering."

I learned in this book that, until the mid-16th century, sharks were not called "sharks," but "sea dogs." Now isn't that nicer? Sure some sea dogs, if aroused, bite, but not all sea dogs. And sea dogs are so despised that fishermen today think nothing of torturing and slaughtering them, 100 million annually.

Dean has riled me up into a state of outrage over these killings. The book's sympathy for one of the world's oldest and most venerable families, is contagious.

Well said, Yossi and Eva!

And a HUGE applause for Dean Crawford!!

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