Books: Killer Animals!

Deadly Kingdom, by Gordon Grice     Photo: Courtesy of Dial Press

Did you know that albatrosses once pecked at the eyes of shipwreck survivors? Or that caterpillars can bite? These facts and many, many more are on gleeful display in Gordon Grice's Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals (Dial Press, $27, May), a highlight reel of anthropophagy spiced up with dashes of science. Grice's delight is palpable when he describes a shark eating a surfer "as if sampling pâté on a cracker," his disappointment obvious when he concedes that "sharks and crocodilians are the only aquatic animals that unequivocally take people as prey." The book is high on one-sided battles—Steve Irwin and Roy Horn get nods—and low on political correctness. There's no they-have-more-to-fear-from-us-than-we-do-from-them malarkey here. Grice posits that, thanks to guilt wrought from the Jaws phenomenon, we fear predators less than ever. But that's not why you should read this book. Read it for lines like this: "Men sped across the face of the water, propelled by unseen sharks."

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