The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators, by Gordon Grice
The black widow spider is notorious for eating her mate as they copulate, but how many of us know much more than that about this beautiful, mysterious, spider?
Grice collects black widows and keeps them in jars and studies them, and he tells us more than we care to know at times. But it is not just black widows that interest Grice, it is rattlesnakes, praying mantis, tarantula, pigs, dogs, and the recluse spider.
The Lives of the Predators is fascinating, strange, and scary, all at the same time. Grice writes with such vivid imagery that you can almost feel the hairy tarantula, and hear the particular sound of the black widows web as you brush through it.
Grice mixes us a venomous cocktail of personal accounts and tall tales; gruesome historic details that may have you questioning if you will ever eat pork again, and yet on the other hand he reveals how seemingly close humans still are to the animal kingdom.
As humans we feel that we are at the top of the food chain and that we have no natural predators who relish our flesh, but wait, that is not true at all! History reveals that as early as biblical times swine have eaten human corpses; in Africa leopards dine on humans regularly; and dogs are more dangerous to us than the wolf.
Grice's knowledge and research are impeccable. His interest in the life and death of his subjects is sometimes morbidly sadistic and it brings to mind an image of little boys who delight in tossing a poor grasshopper into a jar of red ants. But beside the morbidity is a side dish of humor when he describes the story of a man who was supposedly eaten by his hogs as, "?the man was old; he died of a heart attack or a stroke while feeding the pigs; and 'nothing was left of him but the shoes.' ?You have to be particularly suspicious of the heart attack diagnosed from the shoes."
After reading this book you will come away with a different awareness of both the animal kingdom and the insect world, and you can no longer look at a spider or a pig the same way, or your dog for that matter.
Copyright 2005 Cindy DeJager
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