Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Reviews: A Book of Beasts

The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World's Most Curious Creatures
by Michael Largo

William Morrow, 2013

Mr. Largo clearly had a grand time writing this book, a romp through strange (and seemingly mundane) creatures of zoology, cryptozoology, legend, and hoax. He has a great selection of 120 or so creatures, a bevy of good illustrations, some interesting tidbits of science (the electric eel is nicely explained), and considerable humor (I wish I'd thought of calling the platypus "nature's combo platter.") It's marred by a carelessness with facts. Saying that a prehistoric shark's jaws were in constant motion, for example, puzzled me - I'm not sure if he was trying to be funny or he actually thought this fish was chomping 24/7. There are other bits like that (dragons could be a folk memory of late-surviving dinosaurs? Umm, 60 million years is a heck of a gap), but my overall impression is that this book is a lot of fun if you don't take everything in it literally. Most people (all except nitpickers like myself) will definitely enjoy it.

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