BEASTS BEYOND THE FIRE by Michael Jenkinson


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A grab-bag of stories--from science, history, and legend--featuring dangerous or man-killing animals from killer bees to sharks to elephants. Some of Jenkinson's choices are engrossing. Science: Brazilian killer bees, an accidental cross between local bees and African imports, combine the inexhaustibility of the former and the aggressiveness of the latter into a lethal viciousness. History: in 1891 whaler James Bartley was swallowed by a sperm whale, which later was captured by his fellow crewmen. Two days later, butchering the whale, they found Bartley intact and still alive in its stomach. Legend: the shark man of Hawaii, son of a shark god and a human girl, looked human except for the Shark's mouth between his shoulder blades, which he covered with a cape. Overcome from time to time by a craving for meat, he would enter the ocean, turn into a shark, and devour local villagers. Our fear of dangerous animals, writes Jenkinson, may be one of those primordial emotions inherited from ""our club-carrying forefathers"" who kept wild animals at bay just beyond their campfires. Nothing of consequence is accomplished by assembling these tales, animal by animal--apart from suggesting why, in some circumstances, each attacks--but they do make entertaining, if occasionally gory, reading.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dutton