Kraken by Wendy Williams Online

Title : Kraken
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780810984653
Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 223

Kraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid. The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. InKraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid. The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. In addition to squid, both giant and otherwise, Kraken examines other equally enthralling cephalopods, including the octopus and the cuttlefish, and explores their otherworldly abilities, such as camouflage and bioluminescence. Accessible and entertaining, Kraken is also the first substantial volume on the subject in more than a decade and a must for fans of popular science.

Kraken Reviews

  • Emma Sea

    Cephalopods are go!Very interesting book. More on neurobiology than I had anticipated, but when has that ever been a bad thing? I was a little disturbed by the casual cruelty shown to the cephalopods in the book. Some squid get their heads cut off with scissors (alive) before being dissected (still alive) so we can see how their brains work. An octopus has its brain split into two hemispheres (alive) before being taught to associate a particular stimulus with an electric shock: "when it saw the [...]

  • Greta

    This sexist review makes me want to read the book even more : /review/showFor a guy who read that much, and wants to be the mayor of Atlanta one day, he strikes me as awfully narrow-minded.

  • Amy

    I did not love this book in the way that I thought I would, being an avid lover of squid, cuttlefish, and yes, even the lowly octopus, since way back in the day. The cause of this lack of enthusiasm on my part is three-fold:1. The tiny black-and-white photographs give the book the feeling of a high school newspaper from the 1990s. Especially in the chapters that discuss the amazing color capabilities of squid, the lack of color photos is amazingly frustrating. And they're tiny - you really have [...]

  • Bridgitte

    The Cephalopods got the three stars. I LOVE them. Williams held them back. Her style and voice are juvenile. Little organization, lack of development, and silly comments and questions. She is also repetitive (repeating sentences verbatim just pages apart) and can't form a cohesive paragraph. Even more importantly, her approach to the animals is callouse has no problem joking about scientists killing them in rough ways right after she talks about how intelligent they are. Her main accolade for ce [...]

  • Trish

    Absolutely suited for would-be scientists of any age, this book is a great introduction to cephalopods. Lest you think you are not interested, consider this: as ocean temperatures rise and salinity changes, giant Humboldt squid are being found in huge numbers much farther north than ever before and have beached themselves as they did in Monterey Bay in 1992. Humboldt squid can reach up to 6 feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds, and have a dangerous reputation for eating men alive, were one [...]

  • I'mogén

    This book isn't really what I was expecting. I went into this assuming it would be a short but dense piece of scientific literature exploring the life and science of squids, maybe with a bit of mythological execution thrown in there. I mean, with a striking tittle including "Kraken" can you blame me? Instead, what I got was a lighter, humorous scientific account of a particular graduate student's (Julie Stewart) research quest to finding out more about cephalopods and how they have and can furth [...]

  • Donna

    The first half of this book is fascinating. It gives a quick introduction to the science of cephalopods, explains some of their unique features, and tells us about how humans viewed them in the past. I was especially interested in the parts about the process of marine biology field research, you always see those pop-up GPS tags in television documentaries so it was interesting to learn about how they work.Then the author got into squid connections to medical research, and she just lost me. Those [...]

  • Karen

    Three stars for some great, entrancing facts about squids (and other cephalopods.) Did you know they have blue blood, and that's because it contains copper rather than iron? Did you know squid have both arms and tentacles? Or that there are both giant and colossal squid? And that the latter can grow up to at least 50 feet long? And that there are probably lots and lots and LOTS of giant squid in the ocean, given the evidence scientists have retrieved from inside sperm whale bellies? And that Hum [...]

  • Nick Black

    this would have been awesome when I was eight years old or so. not sure how i feel about female science journalists after reading this -- was there really a need to tell me "genera" is plural for "genus"? or to make simpering, silly little comments about squid sex? or Dragon Ball references? take that shit to a middle school classroom, please. i prefer In Search of the Giant Squid for teuthologic pop science and Boyle's Cephalopods as a textbook.

  • Sarah Porter

    I can't honestly say I loved absolutely every second. There were moments when I found Williams's prose a little cutesy, or her transitions jarring, or I wished there was more information about something. But for a slim book, it packs in an incredible amount of breathtaking information and also does a great job of presenting enough of the basic scientific context to let you understand the material. (E.g I understand how neurons work a lot better now.) Consistently enthralling.

  • Melody

    I enjoyed this book but found it spotty. The author was too present, too intrusive. I think her style may be influenced by Mary Roach, and a little of that goes a long way with me. I learned a lot about cephalopods, and I really, really, really wish I could have cromatophores. I flat-out loved the neuroscience chapter. I think I need a good pop-sci neuroscience book right away.

  • Angie

    I was hoping for a book that discussed the history and behavior of squid (the "world" of squid, I suppose you could say), as that seemed to be what was offered judging by the book description. Instead, this book is mostly concerned with cephalopod research and the medical/military application of those findings.Maybe my expectations were off, but I thought the author was someone who had a certain respect for her subject matter. What I discovered instead were repeated, disheartening, accounts in t [...]

  • John G

    This is a fun read by a good science writer. Wendy Williams has a friendly style that immediately engages your interest in a subject that is squeamish to most folks. Squids are quite amazing denizens of the sea that are not well studied perhaps because they have little economic value. Their appearance in ancient mythology and modern horror stories is the main source of popular knowledge. Yet there is so much more about their lives that we are now learning, sadly, at the beginning of the ocean’ [...]

  • Ashur

    This is one of those books I would give 3.5 if the scale allowed half-stars. A "popular science" book, this is aimed at the lay reader and is appropriate for all readers, regardless of their prior acquaintance with cephalopods and marine biology. Williams is a science writer rather than a scientist herself, trained in the art of making science readable to the general population.As a longtime cephalopod enthusiast, much of the material was both familiar and new to me. The text's focus seemed to w [...]

  • Conner Fulton

    This book is about what the title says; squids. Though I may not be the target audience for this book (i.e not a squid fanatic nor a marine biologist fanatic) I still found the book to have interesting facts. Williams talks about all aspects of the squid, from it camouflage capabilities to it's sexual reproduction cycle. I didn't know any of this going into the book, and while it was informative, it seems like something you would learn in an entire college or high school course, not in one book. [...]

  • Punk

    Non-Fiction. Cephalopods throughout history.Better written than Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate and covering a lot of the same ground, using a lot of the same sources, but with an emphasis on squid.The prose is easy and the author offers some good metaphors to describe unfamiliar concepts, but the structure and focus were a bit loose. The narrative jumps around enough that I had trouble remembering scientists introduced in earlier chapters. The section on squid axons was maybe too [...]

  • Emily

    Despite the title, the book looks at several types of cephalopod, not just squid. It's written at a pretty basic level, easily readable by pretty much anyone, and I enjoyed the first half in particular. In the latter half the author starts explaining how useful the squid have been to our understanding of human neurons, and turns into a basic lesson on biology and cell structure; as a biologist I already knew most of this so lost interest a bit. The author is clearly not a scientist herself and h [...]

  • Linnaea

    A very interesting and informative book about squid. This had a lot more science then just learning about the animal. Williams interviewed many different people on both the West Coast and the East Coast and she shares a lot of information. While there is information about each animal, there is also lots about neuroscience (yes, squid play a big part in the human brain), questions about intelligence (can mammals test the intelligence of an octopus) and the oddness of science (the idea for the cur [...]

  • Correen

    Squid, Octopi, Cuttlefish are an amazing lot! I have been fascinated ever since I saw video of squid changing colors. Williams provides a compelling account of cephalopods, a history of human interaction with them, their amazing capabilities, their contribution to human medical knowledge, and the questions they raise about the meaning of intelligence. It is fascinating to learn that squid neurons are so similar to humans that they can provide clues to Parkinson's disease, Alzheimers, and other n [...]

  • Malcolm Logscribe

    Pretty much nope.Condescending. The book feeds you simplified nuggets and then giggles about how hard science is, and the author refers to male scientists by their last name and female ones by their first. It got to the point where the introduction of every new scientist would piss me off.Lots of justifying research by whether we can use it for medicine (or for profit). Depressing. Full disclosure: I did not finish this book. The author clearly didn't trust her readers to be interested in her bo [...]

  • Kerri Anne

    This book reads a bit like a Marine Biology textbook. Which is to say: I was riveted. It rambles in places, could be more tightly edited in some places and perhaps more whimsically written in others, but ultimately I'm forever Team Cephalopod, reporting for duty. [Four stars for a delightfully nerdy summary of enticing squid science, and five billion stars for our stunning, life-giving oceans.]

  • Jamie Gaughran-Perez

    This book started really strong, and certainly hit a lot of interesting points on animal intelligence and news of the weird of the cephalopod world, but Williams could have used a better editor. By the end it was getting repetitious -- re-treading facts and concepts she'd already shared -- and becoming more and more full of platitudes. A shame, because there is some great stuff to learn in here.

  • Marie

    A friend of mine suggested I read China Mieville's Kraken and I accidentally checked out this one, but I'm so glad I did. Williams' writing is so beautiful. You can feel her affection for the tiny Loligos and playful Truman, as well as her wonder. When science writers get it right, it's amazing -- and this is so, so right.

  • Cape Fisherman

    Well researched and presented, Wendy Williams captivates the reader with a perfect blend of science and story telling. I no longer look down at the lonely loligo and think bait, or appetizer, rather I think of the axon packed problem solver as the 007 of the underwater world.

  • Sarah Sammis

    Photos are too small and too dark. The text is disjointed. It's not organized by any obvious method: not by species, not by scientist, not by location. It just sort of goes from topic to topic and there are random chapter breaks in between.

  • Jack

    Amazing - didn't really think I would like this as it was an impulse buy for my holiday but I was thoroughly impressed by it. Not too overbearing, as many popular science novels are, and easy to follow.

  • Josiphine/Tessa

    Ugh, what a disappointment. I wanted a book about squids, but most of the book is actually about scientists who study squids or evolution. Add to this writing that is amateurish and condescending (and really, really unscientific) and I give up.

  • tuttle88

    I wanted to enjoy this book because Cephalopods are really interesting but I found this book lacking. It felt disjointed and repetitive.

  • daniel

    Recommended in Orion magazine.

  • princesspwny

    Interesting and very accessible to the lay reader, with some focus on neurobiology and biochemistry. Some may find it too basic/simplistic for folks who are common consumers of scientific manuscripts, but it is very important to make books on scientific topics accessible and understandable to everyone. The bibliography in the back offers some interesting options for those who'd like to learn more. I would have liked more photos/diagrams and more discussion of how the creatures live and interact [...]