Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals
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How does a tiny box jellyfish, with no brain and little control over where it goes in the water, manage to kill a full-grown man? What harm have hippos been known to inflict on humans, and why? What makes our closest cousin, the chimpanzee, the most dangerous of all apes to encounter in the wild?
In this elegantly illustrated, often darkly funny compendium of animal predation, Gordon Grice, hailed by Michael Pollan as “a fresh, strange, and wonderful new voice in American nature writing,” presents findings that are by turns surprising, humorous, and horrifying. Personally obsessed by both the menace and beauty of animals since he was six years old and a deadly cougar wandered onto his family’s farm, Grice now reaps a lifetime of study in this unique survey—at once a reading book and a resource.
Categorized by kind and informed throughout by the author’s unsentimental view of the natural order and our place in it, here are the hard-to-stomach, hard-to-resist facts and legends of animal encounters. Whether it’s the elephant that collided with a fuel tanker and lived (the tanker exploded), the turn-of-the-century household cure for a copperhead bite (douse the infected area in kerosene), or the shark that terrorized the New Jersey coastline for a summer (later inspiring the film Jaws), everything you’ve ever wanted to know about animals but were afraid to ask is included in this hair-raising, heart-racing volume. By turns wondrous, mordant, and sobering, this book is ultimately a celebration of the animal world—in all its perilous glory—by a writer who’s been heralded by The New York Times for his ability to combine “the observations of a naturalist with a dry, homespun philosopher’s wit.”
“Did he say repugnatorial gland? What a wealth of information Gordon Grice is, and what a fine, beguiling writer. This book is a must for anyone even remotely thinking of getting a monkey, a sea lion, or, heaven forbid, a dog.”
~ David Sedaris
“A wonderful, slightly terrifying, utterly captivating encounter with the animal world—not quite like anything I’ve ever read before."
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed
“Deadly Kingdom is an engagingly original field guide to the venomous, the sharp-clawed, the infectious, and the downright predatory. It’s a witty, fascinating, and playfully macabre read.”
~ David Baron, author of The Beast in the Garden
“Deadly Kingdom is sometimes gory, always gorgeous, and really great. Gordon Grice is a warm and funny guide, his fingers always on the facts. There are amazing stories here, fascinating people and places, but above all, there are the animals we thought we knew, and the ones we’ve never heard of: hagfish, guinea worms, eyelash vipers, blister beetles. You’ll never go barefoot in the barnyard again.”
~ Bill Roorbach, author of Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey
“Deadly Kingdom makes it clear that you are not on top of the food chain.”
~ Pamela Nagami, M.D., author of Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings
About the Author
Gordon Grice has written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, Discover, Granta, and other magazines. His first book, The Red Hourglass, was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Public Library. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Essays. He lives with his family in Wisconsin.
Note: retail EPUB, includes TOC/chapters.
between the greasy rolling hills of his knuckles. It is not terribly unusual for captive rabbits to bite, and the strength of the bites belies the rabbit’s image as a cuddle toy. In 2004, for example, a captive rabbit bred as food for a pet python nipped a twenty-month-old boy. His index finger was, according to a news report, “bitten off past the finger nail.” His father tore open the rabbit’s gut, but couldn’t find the fingertip. Other such amputations have been reported as well. In 2002,
That was the case in a gorilla escape at the Dallas Zoo in 2004. It began with teasing. The perpetrators were two unidentified teenaged male humans; the victim was a teenaged male gorilla. The teasing, according to news reports, extended to pelting the gorilla with ice or rocks. (Further evidence that human intelligence is not equally distributed in the species.) This must have seemed to the boys a safe enough diversion. The gorilla was inside a 12-foot moat ringed with a 14-foot wall. For extra
into trouble with some large tropical species not only by stepping on the snails, but also by trying to collect their shells. The most dangerous species include the geographer cone and the textile cone, each of which has caused people to die within a few minutes of the sting. The death rate for human victims of some cone shells is an extraordinary 20 percent. That puts them among the most effective of all our venomous enemies. ANOTHER SURPRISING AQUATIC danger is the snapping turtle—surprising,
upright, looks too large. However, the gator’s perception of prey size is one-dimensional; a person that looks too large while standing may be attacked when he bends to tie his shoes or tend his garden, or when he sits down to fish. People don’t look as large when they swim, snorkel, or wade. All these situations have provoked attacks. Most dogs look small enough, and gators often prey on them. People have been attacked while defending their pets. In July 2004, on Sanibel Island, Florida, an
to powdered cockroaches as a remedy for heart trouble. Doubtless some of these medicines have hurt far more people than they helped. FLIES ORDER DIPTERA ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT distinctions between poor nations and rich ones is the ability to fight flies. Good housing, drainage projects, pesticides, medicines and vaccines and people trained to use them—these are among the factors that, on average, make North Americans live half a century longer than Africans. People in less developed