Book: Monster of God

With this latest installment, the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo and The Boilerplate Rhino presents readers with another sharp and informative masterpiece of natural history. In Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, Quammen travels across continents to take an intricate look at some of the world’s most amazing and fascinating predators. Indian lions, Australian saltwater crocs, Romanian brown bears, and Siberian tigers—these are the main characters of the book, and Quammen astutely examines them and their sometimes ruthless reigns. These animals are, to put it bluntly, man-eaters, and could be some of the last truly ferocious beasts in existence (excepting a certain bipedal hominid, of course).

Quammen spends some time considering how these predators are often associated with legend and lore; however, most of the book contains accounts of human/predator interactions. It seems that for centuries, humans have regarded these animals with terror and fascination, but as Quammen shows us in his narrative, these beasts are very real, very vulnerable, and are struggling to survive in a modern, human-dominated world.

Throughout the book, Quammen explores the political and economic changes in the predators’ natural environments, and the impact these changes have on their existence. Monster of God is an expertly written account of the history and fate of a group of predators and is well worth adding to your list of must-reads. As I reflect on the effect of the book, one question stands out in my mind: What would the planet be like with out these monsters of God? I think Quammen would agree with me when I say, let’s hope we never find out.