Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: Deadly Powers

By Sandy Amazeen Jan 17, 2012, 7:58 GMT

Book Review: Deadly Powers

Foreword by Barbara EhrenreichAuthor of Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War,and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.Devouring lions, giant bears, sharp-taloned birds of prey, deadly snakes, and snapping alligators-these and other animal predators in search of human flesh are a staple of ancient mythology, along with their mythic counterparts-dragons, griffins, gorgons, harpies, and more. The message is clear: for thousands and thousands of ...more

Lions, tigers and bears oh my, plus giant snakes, birds, reptiles and creatures of our imaginations have all played a major role in human evolution as demonstrated by this fascinating book that examines the role predators have played in shaping large portions of our psyches. Trout draws readers into mankind’s distant past when survival was far from certain and storytellers were responsible for passing along vital information to clan members. Starting out first as fear calls, language evolved along with humanity’s survival skills and with it, mythologies developed as well. Much of the material presented picks up where Joseph Campbell’s groundbreaking work failed to go, expanding into new areas and interpretations.

As our ingrained fear of predators became hardwired, mythology’s role grew as shown by the many different frightening masks, dances and ceremonies that have become part of cultures around the globe. Although our lives are no longer threatened daily by carnivorous animals, mankind’s need to dominate has led to needless slaughter, either on the silver screen, in the ocean or elsewhere.

Trout has created a compelling, approachable read that looks at our relationship with predators in a new, revealing light. Psychology, environmental factors and survival mechanisms are twined together with myth, storytelling and culture in this fascinating examination that will leave readers with a deeper understanding of why we respond the way we do. You will likely never look at the gentle art of storytelling in quite the same way again.

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