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Monster Of God:
The human mind, for reasons that were once obvious, has long been haunted by intimations of things that go bump in the night. And nothing, as the eminent natural historian David Quammen writes in Monster of God, goes bump quite like what he calls an "alpha predator." Among the ranks of those alphas are scary things indeed: sharks, tigers, bears, crocodiles, Komodo dragons, pythons, anacondas, big cats. "It's a short, formidable list," Quammen wryly notes, and one that is growing depressingly shorter with the passing years, as the predators find habitats torn out from under them, their prey reduced and even eliminated. Quammen travels the world to study these animals in their element, lords of ever rarer domains on every continent. "If we exterminate the last magnificently scary beasts on planet Earth," he closes by noting, "then no matter where we go for the rest of our history as a species--for the rest of time--we may never encounter any others." The thought of a world without things that go bump is unnerving, and Quammen's book is a timely, literate warning that such a world is fast upon us. --Gregory McNamee [via]