It took me a while to read this one since each chapter is self contained so it was easy to read a chapter between other books, and sometimes the break was necessary given how many chapters ended on a similar dark note. Each chapter in this book deals with a different animal, the myths we still see in pop culture about many species today, and the historical development of some of those views and how the natural sciences have evolved over the years.
The chapters were incredibly informational while also having a dry sarcastic wit and sharing some more ludicrous stories and drawings of early human philosophers and scientists. I’m definitely weirded out by eels now and even less likely to eat them (they’re just freaky), much more pro hyena, and had no idea how misjudged pandas are. Wild pandas are so different from zoo born ones!
Unfortunately, many of the chapters end with similar themes, mentioning animals that are endangered or on the brink of extinction because of human actions. Sometimes, it is the usual hunting, other times the familiar loss of habitat, and then the human introduction of foreign species and how it threatens local fauna and animals. So much that is interesting and unique is in danger of being lost forever and destroyed. Also, reading about researchers from centuries ago is also rather disturbing because their idea of learning about animals involved a lot of death and torture.
I definitely recommend this one! It will help set many facts straight about various species, even if human interference often brings an unfortunate somberness to the book and raises questions about the futures of many of the animals in question.