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Gordon Grice Essay

Consider, if you can, the case of Jacob Fowler, who heard what he thought was the sound of his own skull cracking between the jaws of a grizzly bear - only to discover that it was.

Or the Arizonan jogger who ran a mile back to her car with a rabid fox clamped to her arm before driving to hospital for live-saving inoculations. Or the woman who was attacked by a hyena, dragged from her tent by her face and survived to tell of her ordeal.

The dangers of the animal kingdom are the stuff of legend but the reality of man's vulnerability and of nature's savage power is far more various, improbable and chilling than even the most active imagination would fear. In this unique work of nature writing, you will encounter the most formidable predators on land and sea - as well as the most overlooked, bizarre and inventive hazards that mother nature has to offer. Meet the cougar that can leap 40 feet and clear 8-foot fences with a fully-grown deer in its jaws, the tapeworm that's been known to grow as long as 82 feet in the human gut and the elephant that single-handedly destroyed an oil tanker.

Drawing on an enormous host of true encounters between man and beast, this is the world's most authoritative compendium of animal attacks on human beings. With mordant wit and expert timing, Gordon Grice provides a gripping journey to the dark side of the animal kingdom and a celebration of its humbling, savage glory.

(Originally published in hardback as The Book of Deadly Animals.)

Readers seeking evidence of "Nature red in tooth and claw" will find it in this first-rate popular science book. Grice, who teaches humanities and English at Seward County Community College, examines in feisty, felicitous prose the life and lore of some lesser predators?spiders, mantids, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, pigs and canids. He notes that the praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head?the better for the female to decapitate her mate as they copulate. Grice attends a rattlesnake roundup, visits a pig factory and talks with wolf-dog breeders. He discusses similarities between pigs and humans, wolves and humans. He describes, in gruesome detail, the effects of spider and snake toxins on the human body. While not for the queasy, the book captures attention, and not least in its philosophic leaps. The bite of the black widow (red hourglass) spider, Grice explains, is lethal far beyond what is necessary to kill insects, its normal prey; it can slay mice, frogs, snakes, cats, dogs and humans. And so in that spider, Grice writes, "the analytical mind finds an irreducible mystery, a motiveless evil in nature."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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