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A journalist's obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators--and the strange band of surfer-scientists who follow them

Susan Casey was in her living room when she first saw the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands, their dark fins swirling around a small motorboat in a documentary. These sharks were the alphas among alphas, some longer than twenty feet, and there were too many to count; even more incredible, this congregation was taking place just twenty-seven miles off the coast of San Francisco.

In a matter of months, Casey was being hoisted out of the early-winter swells on a crane, up a cliff face to the barren surface of Southeast Farallon Island-dubbed by sailors in the 1850s the "devil's teeth." There she joined Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the island's one habitable building, a haunted, 135-year-old house spackled with lichen and gull guano. Two days later, she got her first glimpse of the famous, terrifying jaws up close and she was instantly hooked; her fascination soon yielded to obsession-and an invitation to return for a full season. But as Casey readied herself for the eight-week stint, she had no way of preparing for what she would find among the dangerous, forgotten islands that have banished every campaign for civilization in the past two hundred years.

The Devil's Teeth is a vivid dispatch from an otherworldly outpost, a story of crossing the boundary between society and an untamed place where humans are neither wanted nor needed.

Published: Macmillan Publishers on
ISBN: 9781466800519
List price: $9.99
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I really liked this book a lot. Though it was uneven, it was still utterly fascinating. I learned a lot about great white sharks and the Farallon Islands. I was captivated by the stories Casey told about the sharks and the biologists who love them. I was less enamored of the endless suffering Casey endured on a nearly derelict sailboat at anchor near the Farallons. Very worth reading.more
Susan Casey is a writer home sick when she comes across a documentary on great white sharks filmed at the Farallon Island. The islands, a bleak outcrop of rocks 26 miles past the Golden Gate Bridge are a dreary, perilous place at the best of times, but for great white sharks, a virtual paradise thick with elephant seals to feast on. When the sharks arrive for what is known as shark season, it becomes a dangerous place for man and beast but shark heaven for those creatures lurking beneath the surface. Casey, along with a few biologists who feel at home on the less than sparse island, becomes obsessed with the place and the sharks.I love reading about sharks. Any kind of shark species really but the great white has a special allure. Is it the size? They can grow over 20 feet in length and weigh thousands of pounds. The fact that the species is an evolutionary throwback that hasn’t changed much in millions of years may have something to do with it too. For me, it’s more the idea that these sharks have a society, if you’ll humor me, and personalities all their own. Most people don’t think of sharks this way --- these are far from cuddly animals --- but they exhibit tendencies that can make you wonder. And, let’s face it, we know very little about them or the other creatures that inhabit the cold seas of this world of ours.The author’s fascination with the sharks was an obvious plus for me. I’m one of those people who watches hours and hours worth of BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery channels programming dedicated to sharks. Air jaws? Sure. World’s deadliest sharks? Yes, please. If you aren’t a huge shark fan, this probably wouldn’t be something to draw you in. But the good news is that Casey, who comes from a magazine writing background, knows how to interest the reader in more than just the sharks. It’s also about the islands, the scientists who call the desolate islands home for months at a time, the seals, the birds, the tourist boats, and of course the sharks.If you’ve ever had an interest in sharks, this book is a good read. Admittedly, I did have some issues with the author herself and the way I thought she glossed over a few events involving herself and her actions. But I also understood that maybe not inserting herself into the book anymore than she already had was better for the story.I’ve noticed that a good portion of my non-fiction reading, and non-fiction books on my list, are based around the ocean --- sharks, squid, ill-fated trips to the North Pole. Maybe I should have given marine biology a try in college after all.more
The book is enthralling, not because of its great white observations, but because of its unique insight into the secret hiding place of the Farallon Islands (only 27m from the Golden Gate Bridge). Susan Casey's work is appealing because she is an outsider taking the reader along for the ride. The history, the geography, the science and the nature of the islands detailed in the book is incredible.more
Interesting reading. If you are interested in learning new facts and how they observe and study Great White Sharks, this would not a great read for you.more
Fascinating. It's just as much about the conditions and lifestyle of the naturalists on the Farallone islands as it is about the sharks. It's not amazing writing, but it did keep me turning the pages quickly -- and looking up more photos and information on the web as soon as I closed the book's cover.more
This is my favorite book on white sharks--ever! This is a well-written book, not only about sharks, but about the researchers that study them. It makes me want to be a shark researcher (sadly, it is too late for me). If you have a vague interest in sharks, then I HIGHLY recomend that you give this a try. There is a character in this book that dives for abolone solo, knowing that sharks (large 17-20 foot monsters) are always lurking about that would make an intersting book/movie by itself--remarkable story.more
I have never been fascinated by sharks... Until I read this book. Wow!more
Having just read another Casey book, I found this one to really be lacking. I felt it was too emotional and lacked scientific facts. The book strayed from what I thought the focus was, the sharks, to relationships on the island and what the men looked like. On the other hand, I’ve read that a lot of people think that Casey was the sole reason Peter was fired. I disagree with that. Yes, Casey was at fault, but it appears to me that it was Peter’s idea. Peter chose to put his job on the line and jeopardize the shark project. Putting the sole blame on Casey is like putting all the blame on Eve for Adams fall.more
I don't know which I couldn't get enough of, the history of the Farallons or the White Sharks. I can see why Susan Casey became addictived to the islands with their other world presence.more
The author is not a sympathetic character; she causes a lot of trouble for other people, including getting one scientist fired, because of her own carelessness. On the other hand, the story is well-written and she doesn't try to cover up her own flaws---she flaunts them, really. A much better book on sharks, from a biologist's perspective but aimed at the same audience, is Klimley's "The Secret Life of Sharks."more
Fascinating information about great white sharks and the biologists studying this habitat so close to the U.S. I suppose the book is the author's way of making ammends for her selfish behavior and jeopardizing the life work of several dedicated biologists to just make a name for herself. cpmore
Fun book! The story of California's Farallon Islands is just as fascinating as the stories of the great white sharks in this book. It's a great summer read.more
Even though I was originally lured into picking this one up by the big shark on the cover, I found the book as a whole to be a very rewarding experience. Susan recounts her adventures amongst the great whites near the Farallon Islands in great detail and clear prose. As some of the other reviews have stated her involvement eventually spells disaster for the project; thankfully before she adopts her role as the aquatic Yoko Ono, she captures some truly awe inspiring accounts of the sharks and people who devote most of their lives to studying them.more
I read most of the book last night before I went to sleep and it's a great story about the Farallones, not far from S.F., but a world apart, with treacherous, shark-filled water. Casey manages to convey the great white sharks' different personalities and the challenges of trying to spend time in this volatile area, as well as the passion of the scientists who fought to be there. Though the book is heavy on metaphors, it's an inviting, easy read. I liked it!more
Sad news for the literary world, Peter Benchley, author of Jaws passed away February thirteenth. He was only 65 and touring with his latest book, Shark Trouble, when he succumbed to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.Jaws swept the reading public’s imagination in 1974, remaining on the New York Times bestsellers list for 40 weeks. This, Benchley’s first novel, not only made him famous it also made first time director Steven Spielberg a household name.Benchley had regrets, although the book escalated his wealth, it also gave sharks a bad reputation. He was always quick to remind people it was a work of fiction, “real sharks don’t hold grudges.” Actually he became a shark conservationist and studied the prehistoric creatures extensively for Shark Trouble.Remaining ever active in the sea world, just last year he descended the abyss in another steel cage along with his wife of forty years. Benchley had this to say about his Mexican coast observation:"We went at a time when the females came in and the females were much larger than the males. And at times we would have 4 or 5 of the most gorgeous female torpedoes drifting by the cage. We were thrilled, excited. We'd been around sharks for so long."These female Great White Sharks are described as “Sisters” in Susan Casey’s new book, Devil’s Teeth. Sisters, a nickname given by biologists Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, are groups or “sisterhoods” of female white sharks that cruise the coast off Farallon Islands during shark season. The seventeen foot long behemoths have earned names like Betty, Mama and the Cadillac.Farallon Islands (pronounced fair-alon) located just 27 miles east of San Francisco, can be considered within, “delivery status for a pizza.” During shark season, up to twenty white sharks may be circling these islands hunting otters or seals. Can you imagine 120 acres packed full prehistoric eating machines?Devil’s Teeth exposes a secret society of sharks unheard of, beyond the sea legends of California. Biologist Pyle and Anderson have enjoyed fourteen years of uninterrupted studies, actually motoring out to the kills and filming the underwater drama. They refer to their little skiff, usually half the size of the circling sharks, as the “dinner plate.”This non-fiction book is as informative as it is fun, packed full of harrowing, close-encountered shark stories. A book that would make Benchley proud, but still keeps me on dry land. A close encounter with Cal Ripfin, I can miss.more
The subject of this book--great white shark AND the Farallon Islands--is fantastic, the author on the other hand leaves quite a bit to be desired due to her selfish fanatacism with the subject matter. In her quest to "know" she annihilated multiple careers and one of the foremost premiere studies of these great creatures.more
Read all 21 reviews

Reviews

I really liked this book a lot. Though it was uneven, it was still utterly fascinating. I learned a lot about great white sharks and the Farallon Islands. I was captivated by the stories Casey told about the sharks and the biologists who love them. I was less enamored of the endless suffering Casey endured on a nearly derelict sailboat at anchor near the Farallons. Very worth reading.more
Susan Casey is a writer home sick when she comes across a documentary on great white sharks filmed at the Farallon Island. The islands, a bleak outcrop of rocks 26 miles past the Golden Gate Bridge are a dreary, perilous place at the best of times, but for great white sharks, a virtual paradise thick with elephant seals to feast on. When the sharks arrive for what is known as shark season, it becomes a dangerous place for man and beast but shark heaven for those creatures lurking beneath the surface. Casey, along with a few biologists who feel at home on the less than sparse island, becomes obsessed with the place and the sharks.I love reading about sharks. Any kind of shark species really but the great white has a special allure. Is it the size? They can grow over 20 feet in length and weigh thousands of pounds. The fact that the species is an evolutionary throwback that hasn’t changed much in millions of years may have something to do with it too. For me, it’s more the idea that these sharks have a society, if you’ll humor me, and personalities all their own. Most people don’t think of sharks this way --- these are far from cuddly animals --- but they exhibit tendencies that can make you wonder. And, let’s face it, we know very little about them or the other creatures that inhabit the cold seas of this world of ours.The author’s fascination with the sharks was an obvious plus for me. I’m one of those people who watches hours and hours worth of BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery channels programming dedicated to sharks. Air jaws? Sure. World’s deadliest sharks? Yes, please. If you aren’t a huge shark fan, this probably wouldn’t be something to draw you in. But the good news is that Casey, who comes from a magazine writing background, knows how to interest the reader in more than just the sharks. It’s also about the islands, the scientists who call the desolate islands home for months at a time, the seals, the birds, the tourist boats, and of course the sharks.If you’ve ever had an interest in sharks, this book is a good read. Admittedly, I did have some issues with the author herself and the way I thought she glossed over a few events involving herself and her actions. But I also understood that maybe not inserting herself into the book anymore than she already had was better for the story.I’ve noticed that a good portion of my non-fiction reading, and non-fiction books on my list, are based around the ocean --- sharks, squid, ill-fated trips to the North Pole. Maybe I should have given marine biology a try in college after all.more
The book is enthralling, not because of its great white observations, but because of its unique insight into the secret hiding place of the Farallon Islands (only 27m from the Golden Gate Bridge). Susan Casey's work is appealing because she is an outsider taking the reader along for the ride. The history, the geography, the science and the nature of the islands detailed in the book is incredible.more
Interesting reading. If you are interested in learning new facts and how they observe and study Great White Sharks, this would not a great read for you.more
Fascinating. It's just as much about the conditions and lifestyle of the naturalists on the Farallone islands as it is about the sharks. It's not amazing writing, but it did keep me turning the pages quickly -- and looking up more photos and information on the web as soon as I closed the book's cover.more
This is my favorite book on white sharks--ever! This is a well-written book, not only about sharks, but about the researchers that study them. It makes me want to be a shark researcher (sadly, it is too late for me). If you have a vague interest in sharks, then I HIGHLY recomend that you give this a try. There is a character in this book that dives for abolone solo, knowing that sharks (large 17-20 foot monsters) are always lurking about that would make an intersting book/movie by itself--remarkable story.more
I have never been fascinated by sharks... Until I read this book. Wow!more
Having just read another Casey book, I found this one to really be lacking. I felt it was too emotional and lacked scientific facts. The book strayed from what I thought the focus was, the sharks, to relationships on the island and what the men looked like. On the other hand, I’ve read that a lot of people think that Casey was the sole reason Peter was fired. I disagree with that. Yes, Casey was at fault, but it appears to me that it was Peter’s idea. Peter chose to put his job on the line and jeopardize the shark project. Putting the sole blame on Casey is like putting all the blame on Eve for Adams fall.more
I don't know which I couldn't get enough of, the history of the Farallons or the White Sharks. I can see why Susan Casey became addictived to the islands with their other world presence.more
The author is not a sympathetic character; she causes a lot of trouble for other people, including getting one scientist fired, because of her own carelessness. On the other hand, the story is well-written and she doesn't try to cover up her own flaws---she flaunts them, really. A much better book on sharks, from a biologist's perspective but aimed at the same audience, is Klimley's "The Secret Life of Sharks."more
Fascinating information about great white sharks and the biologists studying this habitat so close to the U.S. I suppose the book is the author's way of making ammends for her selfish behavior and jeopardizing the life work of several dedicated biologists to just make a name for herself. cpmore
Fun book! The story of California's Farallon Islands is just as fascinating as the stories of the great white sharks in this book. It's a great summer read.more
Even though I was originally lured into picking this one up by the big shark on the cover, I found the book as a whole to be a very rewarding experience. Susan recounts her adventures amongst the great whites near the Farallon Islands in great detail and clear prose. As some of the other reviews have stated her involvement eventually spells disaster for the project; thankfully before she adopts her role as the aquatic Yoko Ono, she captures some truly awe inspiring accounts of the sharks and people who devote most of their lives to studying them.more
I read most of the book last night before I went to sleep and it's a great story about the Farallones, not far from S.F., but a world apart, with treacherous, shark-filled water. Casey manages to convey the great white sharks' different personalities and the challenges of trying to spend time in this volatile area, as well as the passion of the scientists who fought to be there. Though the book is heavy on metaphors, it's an inviting, easy read. I liked it!more
Sad news for the literary world, Peter Benchley, author of Jaws passed away February thirteenth. He was only 65 and touring with his latest book, Shark Trouble, when he succumbed to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.Jaws swept the reading public’s imagination in 1974, remaining on the New York Times bestsellers list for 40 weeks. This, Benchley’s first novel, not only made him famous it also made first time director Steven Spielberg a household name.Benchley had regrets, although the book escalated his wealth, it also gave sharks a bad reputation. He was always quick to remind people it was a work of fiction, “real sharks don’t hold grudges.” Actually he became a shark conservationist and studied the prehistoric creatures extensively for Shark Trouble.Remaining ever active in the sea world, just last year he descended the abyss in another steel cage along with his wife of forty years. Benchley had this to say about his Mexican coast observation:"We went at a time when the females came in and the females were much larger than the males. And at times we would have 4 or 5 of the most gorgeous female torpedoes drifting by the cage. We were thrilled, excited. We'd been around sharks for so long."These female Great White Sharks are described as “Sisters” in Susan Casey’s new book, Devil’s Teeth. Sisters, a nickname given by biologists Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, are groups or “sisterhoods” of female white sharks that cruise the coast off Farallon Islands during shark season. The seventeen foot long behemoths have earned names like Betty, Mama and the Cadillac.Farallon Islands (pronounced fair-alon) located just 27 miles east of San Francisco, can be considered within, “delivery status for a pizza.” During shark season, up to twenty white sharks may be circling these islands hunting otters or seals. Can you imagine 120 acres packed full prehistoric eating machines?Devil’s Teeth exposes a secret society of sharks unheard of, beyond the sea legends of California. Biologist Pyle and Anderson have enjoyed fourteen years of uninterrupted studies, actually motoring out to the kills and filming the underwater drama. They refer to their little skiff, usually half the size of the circling sharks, as the “dinner plate.”This non-fiction book is as informative as it is fun, packed full of harrowing, close-encountered shark stories. A book that would make Benchley proud, but still keeps me on dry land. A close encounter with Cal Ripfin, I can miss.more
The subject of this book--great white shark AND the Farallon Islands--is fantastic, the author on the other hand leaves quite a bit to be desired due to her selfish fanatacism with the subject matter. In her quest to "know" she annihilated multiple careers and one of the foremost premiere studies of these great creatures.more
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