As if sharks haven’t got it bad enough as it is, along comes this book
William McKeever goes all out to enthuse in readers a love for the fish, but his clumsy paean is oddly toothless
In an average year, sharks kill four humans and humans kill 100 million sharks. This appears shocking, but it really shouldn’t — humanity’s habit of wreaking catastrophic damage on the oceans is not exactly a well-kept secret.
Blame Steven Spielberg. Jaws did such a good job of turning sharks into man-munching villains in the popular imagination that the reality has swum quietly below the surface, largely unnoticed. Just ask Peter Benchley, author of the 1974 novel on which the film was based, who was so filled with remorse after seeing the corpses of finned sharks littering the ocean floor while diving off the coast of Costa Rica that he became a lifelong campaigner for their conservation.
It is clear sharks are in desperate need of a better PR outfit. Instead, they got William McKeever. A financial journalist-turned-environmental campaigner, he attempts to inspire affection for the ocean’s toothier inhabitants in a heartfelt but clumsy polemic, Emperors of the Deep. His passionate enthusiasm for his subject crashes wavelike on every page (and the book runs to a blubbery 270 of them). Unfortunately, so does his prose...