Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
an enormous quantity of feed pellets, and against the far wall were three or four hundred-pound sacks of the feed. Mice were still scrambling away from the opening of the door, running across and around the scattered feed, some of them describing psychotic esses in their flight, as if they were constantly being frightened into changing their trajectories. Their claws ticked on the floor. They aimed to hide, but they were so numerous that dozens of them could not find holes to hide in. They rushed
Arizona jogger. Knowing she’d want the fox tested for rabies, she ran a mile with it clamped on to her arm, then tossed it into the trunk of her car and drove to the hospital. When the trunk was opened, the fox bit an animal control officer. The mad victim, canid or human, cannot drink, not even his own saliva—the attempt at swallowing makes his throat spasm. The sight of water can make him panic and gasp. He feels he is choking, and he is: the neurological mechanisms that time our breathing and
(mostly) arthropod images, American Cockroach (Aperture, 2005) and Food Chain (Aperture, 2000). I wrote a short essay for the latter, but I’d recommend it even if I hadn’t. P. D. Hillyard’s The Book of the Spider is a good general source. Spiders of the World, by Rod and Ken Preston-Mafham, is a gorgeously photographed volume. Neither of these is specific to the venomous spiders, however. My earlier book, The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators (Delta, 1999), details the habits of widow and
extreme form of sibling rivalry. Once old enough to hunt outside their own den, hyenas may work alone, in small groups temporarily splintered from the clan, or, when hunting large, fast animals such as zebra, in groups of a dozen or more. In defense of territory, the entire clan—up to eighty animals—may cooperate. Like wolves, hyenas increase the range of possible prey by pack hunting. They generally need no such tactics against human beings. As is the case with most carnivores, preying on
a sea lion leaped out of the water in the port of King Cove, Alaska, and onto a boat where a professional fisherman was working. The lion bit him on his hind end and plunged back into the water with him. Once beneath the surface, it let him go. He bobbed to the top and was rescued. Though his clothes were torn, the man’s only injury was a minor scrape on his buttock. All this happened in a few seconds. The boat was laden with cod, and was in fact docked at a seafood restaurant to unload its haul.