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Lead book review

We should learn to love sharks, not demonise them

Sharks may inspire fear and loathing, but we are the crueller predators, says Philip Hoare

25 July 2020

9:00 AM

25 July 2020

9:00 AM

Emperors of the Deep: Sharks – The Ocean’s Most Mysterious, Most Important and Most Misunderstood Guardians William McKeever

William Collins, pp.320, 20

Such a sublime, terrible beauty, the shark. Glidingly filled with our awe, as if those glassy eyes marked us out as a bite-sized snack from the start. Evolutionarily pre-lapsarian — they’ve been around for 450 million years — sharks are wreathed in a symbolic cruelty, theirs and ours. In one of the most vivid scenes in Moby-Dick, the whalers slice into sharks attempting to prey upon their prized whale catch; yet even as the fishes’ entrails spill out, the dying animals are so ferocious that they eat their own innards.

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