A fascinating exploration into the world of turtles across the globe; Laufer charts the lore, love, and peril to a beloved species.
Dreaming in Turtle is a compelling story of a stalwart animal prized from prehistory through to today—an animal threatened by human greed, pragmatism, and rationalization. It stars turtles and shady and heroic human characters both, in settings ranging from luxury redoubts to degraded habitats, during a time when the confluence of easy global trade, limited supply, and inexhaustible demand has accelerated the stress on species. The growth of the middle class in high-population regions like China, where the turtle is particularly valued, feeds this perfect storm into which the turtle finds itself lashed. This is a tale not just of endangered turtles but also one of overall human failings, frailties, and vulnerabilities—all punctuated by optimistic hope for change fueled by dedicated turtle champions.
In this enlightening book, journalism professor Laufer (Forbidden Creatures) takes readers on a journey toward understanding the human impact on turtles, an order of reptiles that have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. His objective is more than pedagogic, as Laufer hopes that his work will serve as a "call to action" to stop the trafficking that has put many species on the brink of extinction. Less loftily, Laufer shares his experiences as the owner of a pet desert box turtle named Fred; those sections offer much-needed humor (as when Laufer's wife attempts to tempt Fred with organic raspberries from Whole Foods) as a counterweight to shocking accounts of cruelty, including the practice of carving steaks from living turtles to maximize freshness. Laufer also places the issue in a broader context, concluding with this powerful observation: "if we humans force the demise of these animals connected to ages that predate us, our disdain for their environment translates by definition to a lack of adequate concern for the sanctity of our own." Laufer's passion for his subject translates into an unexpectedly thought-provoking cri de coeur.