Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Snake Charmer by Jamie James

Subtitle: A Life and Death in Pursuit of Knowledge. This is a Hyperion book and was sent to me for review by Book Reporter.

The first thing I need to confess is that I HATE snakes! I've been fearful of them for my entire life. So I hesitated over asking for this book for review. However, it's non-fiction and the idea of someone who is entranced by snakes and is willing to endanger his life to learn more about them enticed me.

Joe Slowinski is an adventurous young man who takes advantage of every opportunity he finds to learn more. He starts with paleontology and then graduates to venomous snakes. So he almost dies from his first snake bite - he was still hooked on finding new species and visiting unexplored countries.

The author leads you into the story very well with tales about Joe's early adventures (and misadventures). Soon you're reading about snakes and not even knowing the difference! After all, did you know: "The largest species of the group, the reticulated python (Python reticulatus), is the longest snake on Earth; a specimen measuring more than ten meters, or thirty-three feet, was shot in 1912 on the island of Celebres in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia). The heaviest snake on reliable record was a green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) killed in Brazil in 1960, which was just under twenty-eight feet long and forty-four inches in the 'waist,' putting its weight at well over five hundred pounds."

This book is full of facts about snakes, what's known and what is still to be learned.

When Dr. Joe Slowinski goes to uppermost Burma, he knew what kinds of snakes to expect. He circumvented certain laws and requirements to get to the area before another explorer, and he knew what snakes he was collecting.

However, he took it for granted that his staff could correctly identify them also.

As many in the animal world do, snakes would mimic the markings of a dangerous snake for "protection" against their nature enemies. A mis-identified snake and being too far from medical facilities proved to be too much for Joe.

This book shows you how much Joe accomplished in 38 years, as well as how much work it takes to plow through the paperwork, politicians, and jungle environment to do real research.

There are numerous photos of Joe during his life and is really a celebration of Joe's life.

If you'd like my copy of this book, please follow these instructions:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog.

2) Email me your name and address and why you'd like this book to info @ (remove the spaces).

I'll pick a winner in about a week.


Anonymous said...

I am terribly afraid of snakes but after reading this thought...if he can overcome it maybe I can too...and thought reading this book might help me with my fear.

Violet said...

I like snakes, in fact I just held 2 at the same time just a few days back. I thought they would be cold and slimy but they were actually dry and warm :)

I appreciate people who can spend a large chunk of their lives pursuing one thing. This book would be fun to read.