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The Devil’s Cormorant
A Natural History
Richard J. King

University of New Hampshire Press
2013 • 360 pp. 21 illus., 2 maps 6 x 9"
Ecology & Environmental Studies / Natural History

$24.95 Paperback, 978-1-61168-699-9
$29.95 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-225-0

$24.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-474-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

"Thorough and authoritative as well as charming. . . . King demonstrates his multidimensional expertise on matters relating to the sea in this excellent exploration of the world of cormorants." —Library Journal

A journey through the history, biology, and culture of the misunderstood cormorant

Behold the cormorant: silent, still, cruciform, and brooding; flashing, soaring, quick as a snake. Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and salt water in a vast global range of temperatures and altitudes, often in close proximity to man. Long a symbol of gluttony, greed, bad luck, and evil, the cormorant has led a troubled existence in human history, myth, and literature. The birds have been prized as a source of mineral wealth in Peru, hunted to extinction in the Arctic, trained by the Japanese to catch fish, demonized by Milton in Paradise Lost, and reviled, despised, and exterminated by sport and commercial fishermen from Israel to Indianapolis, Toronto to Tierra del Fuego. In The Devil’s Cormorant, Richard King takes us back in time and around the world to show us the history, nature, ecology, and economy of the world’s most misunderstood waterfowl.

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“Fascinating. . . . A great book to have at home or aboard.”—American Schooner Association

“Mankind’s literary, historical, cultural, ecological and absurdly comical relationship with the ultimate “love ’em or hate ’em” bird—the only earthly creature that can migrate the length of a continent and climb up cliff faces—is examined by King, a lecturer on the literature of the sea at Williams College and Mystic Seaport.”—Connecticut Magazine

“King is asking us to work out the terms of endearment, to figure out compromises that remain crucial to the planet. For more than 300 pages he presses the reader to evaluate bird and human co-existence. Perhaps this duck and its story carry some of the answers. Read the book and get involved. And save some applause for the author.”’—


“Richard King has a rare knack for seeing the large in the little, showing how a rather obscure bird actually looms large in our lives. This book is his gift to us.”—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

“Before I read this marvelous, idiosyncratic book, I might have said I wasn't interested in cormorants. Now—I'll never not be interested.”—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Voyage of the Narwhal


Library Journal's Best of 2013

RICHARD J. KING is senior lecturer in literature of the sea with the Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport. He is the author of Lobster.

Tue, 21 Apr 2015 08:38:18 -0500