The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World

The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World

$28.99

Author: Patrik Svensson | Hardcover

New York Times Editor's Choice

One of Forbes' "Best Summer Reads for Those Stuck Inside Working Remotely"

One of the LA Times' "21 New and Classic Books to Keep You in Touch with the Natural World"

One of NPR Science Friday's Best Science Books of the Summer

Part H Is for Hawk, part The Soul of an OctopusThe Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish--the eel--and a reflection on the human condition

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the "eel question" Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don't understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.

Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson crafts a mesmerizing portrait of an unusual, utterly misunderstood, and completely captivating animal. In The Book of Eels, we meet renowned historical thinkers, from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud to Rachel Carson, for whom the eel was a singular obsession. And we meet the scientists who spearheaded the search for the eel's point of origin, including Danish marine biologist Johannes Schmidt, who led research efforts in the early twentieth century, catching thousands upon thousands of eels, in the hopes of proving their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

Blending memoir and nature writing at its best, Svensson's journey to understand the eel becomes an exploration of the human condition that delves into overarching issues about our roots and destiny, both as humans and as animals, and, ultimately, how to handle the biggest question of all: death. The result is a gripping and slippery narrative that will surprise and enchant.

 

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"Blending a wonderfully evocative and succinct timeline of scientific discoveries about eels with a memoir of his changing relationship with his father, Svensson has produced an extremely readable book on a fish that all have heard of but few (on our side of the pond) have actually seen."-- Booklist
 
"An unusual and beguiling guide to an unusual and beguiling animal. . . . Svensson's book, like its subject, is a strange beast: a creature of metamorphosis, a shape-shifter that moves among realms. It is a book of natural history, and a memoir about a son and his father. It is also an exploration of literature and religion and custom, and what it means to live in a world full of questions we can't always answer."-- The New Yorker
 
"Captivating . . . The Book of Eels is, in the end, not really about eels but about life itself."-- Wall Street Journal
 
"Poses questions about philosophy, the metaphysical, and the spiritual, as well as scientific issues, in a way that will stir readers. This beautifully crafted book challenges us not only to understand eels but our own selves. Highly recommended."-- Library Journal (starred review)
 

Publisher: Ecco Press | Pub Date: May 26, 2020 | Format: Hardcover | Pages: 256 | Dimensions:1.1" H x 8.3" L x 5.8" W | 0.75 lbs