- Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World
von Patrik Svensson
Los Angeles TimesBestsellerIndieBound BestsellerA New York Times Editors ChoiceOne 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 WorldOne of NPR Science Fridays Best Science Books of the SummerPartH Is for Hawk, partThe Soul of an Octopus,The Book of Eelsis both a meditation on the worlds most elusive fishthe eeland a reflection on the human conditionRemarkably little is known about the European eel,Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with whathas becomeknown 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 dont 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. InThe 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 eels 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, Svenssons 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.