Incoming college freshmen often hear an advisory adage: "You don't take courses, you take professors." That is, regardless of the subject, enroll in classes taught by the best instructors. In that spirit, even without a previous interest in man-eating predators, potential readers will very likely find Monster of God worthwhile because David Quammen wrote it.
Quammen is probably best known for the years he spent at Outside magazine, writing beautiful, witty and informative essays, which live on in the collections The Boilerplate Rhino and The Flight of the Iguana. His previous sprawling science-cum-travel book was The Song of the Dodo, a globe-trotting adventure that took the author to wild places in search of secrets of island biogeography. A chunk of that work dealt with the Komodo dragon, a stealthy hunter that occasionally bags itself a human victim. Man-eating predators must have gotten under Quammen's skin--figuratively, fortunately. The new work is entirely devoted to the contemplation of a few of the remaining species that can stalk, attack, kill and eat a human being. "It's one thing to be dead," Quammen writes. "It's another thing to be meat."
This article was originally published with the title Biting Us and the Dust.