The Better to Eat You With
Fear in the Animal World
Berger’s fieldwork that frigid day raised important questions that would require years of travel and research to answer: Can naive animals avoid extinction when they encounter reintroduced carnivores? To what extent is fear culturally transmitted? And how can a better understanding of current predator-prey behavior help demystify past extinctions and inform future conservation?
The Better to Eat You With is the chronicle of Berger’s search for answers. From Yellowstone’s elk and wolves to rhinos living with African lions and moose coexisting with tigers and bears in Asia, Berger tracks cultures of fear in animals across continents and climates, engaging readers with a stimulating combination of natural history, personal experience, and conservation. Whether battling bureaucracy in the statehouse or fighting subzero wind chills in the field, Berger puts himself in the middle of the action. The Better to Eat You With invites readers to join him there. The thrilling tales he tells reveal a great deal not only about survival in the animal kingdom but also the process of doing science in foreboding conditions and hostile environments.
“The complex and nuanced interplay between predator and prey is an essential thread in the fabric of nature. Joel Berger’s substantial contributions to this emerging world view have been rendered through simplicity and elegance—by observing prey and their predators across global landscapes in a purposeful way. This book, delivered in the personalized style of a life’s journey, tells an absorbing story of how big animals alter their behavior so as to manage the risk of being eaten.”
“How long do the ghosts of monsters linger before their misty essence evaporates? And when the monster itself (wolf, tiger, men) returns with meat hunger, how long before prey rediscover terror? What created the singular fleetness and visual acuity of pronghorn antelope? How necessary are predators and the fear of them in maintaining the resilience of wild places? Joel Berger has written a stirring adventure of wildness, prey naiveté, animal culture, and science.”
“The Better to Eat You With offers a very novel, important, and global view of the complex interrelationships between predators and prey. Science, culture, and practical issues meet head on, as they must, in a book that surely will change existing views about the role of fear in the evolution of behavior. Only world-renowned and indefatigable field biologist Joel Berger could pull off such a comprehensive analysis of how past and present must be studied as we try to figure out how all animals—nonhuman and human—will be able to share harmoniously our one and only planet in the future. Berger’s book is a landmark contribution to the study of behavior and conservation.”
“Joel Berger is a world-class conservation scientist with a rare ability to transform knowledge into conservation action. In The Better to Eat You With he conveys the mysteries and wonder of wildlife behavior in a fast-paced narrative that both informs and inspires.”
The Hunt for Eden
1. The Wolf is at the Door—Who’s Afraid?
2. The Shy Giant of the Forest
3. A Tropical Primate in Alaska
4. Emissaries of a Dying Epoch
The Meek and the Bold
5. Subarctic Shadows
6. To Know Thy Enemy
7. Among the Naive
8. A Tiger East of the Sun
A Search for Ice Age Relicts
9. A Continent of Virgins and Recent Ghosts
10. On Being Caribou and Musk Ox
11. Islands of Ice and Innocence
The Predator’s Gaze
12. Changing the Rules of Engagement
13. Nomads of the Gobi
14. The Silent Cats of Patagonia
Making the Beast More Savage, or Less?
15. A Credibility Conundrum
16. Different Sides of the Darwinian Divide
17. Of Fear and Culture
Readings of Interest and Exploration