“Eels [is] more than a fish book. It is an impassioned defense of nature itself. . . . [Prosek] passes on the truth that the often disdained eel, like all migratory fish, is vital and mysterious and worthy of our full effort to bring it back.” — New York Times Book Review
“A wonderful account of far-flung travels in pursuit of the secrets of the earth’s most mysterious fish. . . . Fascinating and beautifully rendered.” — Peter Matthiessen
Famous for his deeply informed, compulsively readable books on trout, James Prosek (whom the New York Times has called “the Audubon of the fishing world”) takes on nature’s quirkiest and most enigmatic fish: the eel. Fans of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and The Big Oyster or Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters will love Prosek’s probing exploration of the hidden deep-water dwellers. With characteristically captivating prose and lavish illustrations, Prosek demystifies the eel’s unique biology and bizarre mating routines, and illuminates the animal’s varied roles in the folklore, cuisine, and commerce of a variety of cultures.
Ask your average North American: eels, those slimy snakelike creatures, are generally held in poor regard. For nature writer Prosek (Trout; Fly-Fishing the 41st), however, they are a compelling mystery, and in his riveting synthesis of cultural, geographical, and botanical sleuthing, he investigates their reputation at home and abroad. The author for whom the eel was once merely bait for bass delves into the closely held traditions of the Maori of New Zealand, where eels are revered; into the beliefs of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, where eels are considered members of a tribal clan; into the heart of the largest seafood market in the world, in Japan, a nation that consumes more than 130,000 tons of eels each year; into the reclusive world of Eel Weir Hollow in the Catskills, where fisherman Ray traps and smokes as much as one ton of eels a season; and to the fabled Sargasso Sea, where eels are thought to start their trek to the world's lakes, rivers, and streams though, even now, no one knows precisely where the world's population of eels spawns, an enduring scientific mystery awaiting a solution.