A young man is murdered for his prized pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. Delving into an outlandish realm of obsession, paranoia, and criminality, The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other: a powerful predator dating to the age of the dinosaurs. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana is bred on high-security farms in Southeast Asia and sold by the hundreds of thousands each year. In the United States, however, it's protected by the Endangered Species Act and illegal to bring into the country - though it remains the object of a thriving black market. From the South Bronx to Singapore, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the fish, ultimately embarking on a years-long quest to find the arowana in the wild. With a captivating blend of personal reporting, history, and science, The Dragon Behind the Glass traces our modern fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when intrepid naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science, discovering new and wondrous species in jungles all over the world.
There is much in this book for almost anyone interested in fishes and their biology. Voight offers thoughtful perspectives on the aquarium hobby, it's history, psychology, the industry that supports it, and the potential impact of fish collecting on natural populations. She blends these with absorbing travel adventure narratives, personal profiles and a reasonably nuanced discussion of the utility and impact of "listing" endangered species. I am an ichthyologist and have been an aquarist for almost all of my 71 years but this book made me think about a lot of what I and my colleagues do in a different light
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Exciting but sad, a reminder that our resources are finite and require our care and conservation
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
As an semi professional aquarist this gripped me. I devoured in about 2 two days of frantic reading. It brought to light some of the darker and easily ignored sides of the aquarium trade (my dearest passion) and made me ask some really tough questions about my life. Anyone who is has an aquarium should give this a listen.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This audiobook appealed to the fish lover in me. A couple of years ago I bought a bunch of arowanas until they started getting too big for the tank. This book may just be what I need to bring a couple of them back to admire every morning.
My biggest takeaways occurred at the beginning with details about the aquarist and the epilogue where she wraps up her thoughts on protecting species and keeping fish as pets. Her travels were interesting but anticlimactic, so is real life though.