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Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

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What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. The answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wi What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. The answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology. Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque. Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem—and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.


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What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. The answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wi What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. The answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology. Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque. Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem—and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

30 review for Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra kissed a prince and he turned into a frog

    I've read quite a few Mary Roach books. All 3 or 4 stars, none of them ever quite hit the heights for me and eventually I got bored with her light-touch pop science writing that had plenty of humour and not enough science. This book is different, and not at all like her other books. There is still humour, but it is minimal, and there is plenty of deep investigation and science. Essentially the book is about plants and animals that are seriously dangerous to people. I have the two most dangerous I've read quite a few Mary Roach books. All 3 or 4 stars, none of them ever quite hit the heights for me and eventually I got bored with her light-touch pop science writing that had plenty of humour and not enough science. This book is different, and not at all like her other books. There is still humour, but it is minimal, and there is plenty of deep investigation and science. Essentially the book is about plants and animals that are seriously dangerous to people. I have the two most dangerous plants in the world growing in my garden. I knew they were poisonous but not that much! One is a tree whose little seeds we call jumbie beads. They are very pretty, shiny scarlet with a big black dot, lovely for jewellery and in the book they are rosary beads. Abrus pecatorius is the botanical name and they are deadly. The other is the castor oil plant. That is where ricin comes from. There is a picture of me (taken a while back when my grass hadn't been cut - grass here grows 6' or 7' tall if it isn't cut every couple of weeks) behind a young one. They have very pretty fuzzy red pods when mature. No one plants them here, they are weeds. The book discusses which method of preparation leads to the most deadly poison from the plants! Since I can't read yet, my eye sees a white veil dotted with tiny black dots , I'm listening to this. I'm getting used to audio, but it's not as good as print.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    …I…follow along behind a small group of conservation officers heading to the lawn outside. Their leather hiking boots squeak as they walk. “So she looks in her rearview mirror,” one is saying, and there’s a bear in the back seat earing popcolrn.” When wildlife officers gather at a conference, the shop talk is outstanding. Last night I stepped onto the elevator as a man was saying, “Ever tase an elk?” Mary Roach is up to her old tricks. A science writer now publishing her seventh book, Roach h …I…follow along behind a small group of conservation officers heading to the lawn outside. Their leather hiking boots squeak as they walk. “So she looks in her rearview mirror,” one is saying, and there’s a bear in the back seat earing popcolrn.” When wildlife officers gather at a conference, the shop talk is outstanding. Last night I stepped onto the elevator as a man was saying, “Ever tase an elk?” Mary Roach is up to her old tricks. A science writer now publishing her seventh book, Roach has written for many publications, including National Geographic, Wired, NY Times Magazine, and many more. She begins with a notion, then goes exploring. Roach tells Goodreads, in a book-recommendation piece, that she came across a potential story about cattle breeders staging deaths to commit insurance fraud. She even had a grand theft avocado story lined up, but the local Smokeys would not let her come along, which was a requisite. She shifted to wildlife. I paid a visit to a woman at the National Wildlife Service forensics lab who had authored a paper on how to detect counterfeit “medicinal” tiger penises. - from the GR pieceWait! What? (there is link to the study in EXTRA STUFF, of course) But again it was nogo accompanying the officers into the field. Really? Her presence would blow a National Wildlife Service raid on a market selling junk johnsons? It is pretty easy to come up with a descriptive for such unwarranted reticence. (Rhymes with sickish.) In any case, in her investigative travels, Mary came across a weird 1906 boeopardok about the prosecution and execution of animals and realized she had her hook. What if animals were the perpetrators of crimes instead of people? She breaks the book down into “criminal” categories, homicide, B&E, man-slaughter, larceny, even jaywalking, and off we go. Mary Roach - image from Lapham’s Quarterly First, and foremost, I need to let you know straight away that you will be laughing out loud at least every few pages. This is not an experience I have with any other writer, and yet have had it consistently with Mary Roach, across the several books of hers that I have read. Ditto here. Well, fine, your sense of humor may not be like mine, but Mary has the key to my funny-bone. Her intro offers a stunning representation of just how stupid people have been when attempting to enforce laws on animals over the course of history. Python-worthy material, totally side-splitting, and jaw-dropping. Really, they actually did that? Yes, gentle reader, they totally did. On June 26, 1659, a representative from five towns in a province in northern Italy initiated legal proceedings against caterpillars. The local specimens, went the complaint, were trespassing and pilfering from people’s gardens and orchards. A summons was issued and five copies made and nailed to trees in forests adjacent to each town. The caterpillars were ordered to appear in court…Of course no caterpillars appeared at the appointed time, but the case went forward anyway. It goes on. Would have been tough making a charge stick anyway. They would have just blamed each other. It was that caterpillar, not me. I was nowhere near that orchard. And even if they were jailed they would have just flown out anyway. The law may be a ass, far too often, but sometimes it truly boggles the mind. As usual, Mary interviews experts in all the areas she investigates. She begins her contemporary explorations with a gathering of Canadian Conservation officers (in the USA) getting Wildlife Human Attack Response Training or WHART. They don’t, but you go right on ahead and call it what it is, CSI-Wildlife – DUUUUUM-DA-DUM! Mary brings plenty of funny to her reporting, but a lot of it is simply laying out the facts and letting them make you laugh themselves. For example, the test manikins are named for brands of beer. Good one, eh? And there is that quote at the top of the review. You will also learn some real-world intel like the significance of a round versus a more oval drop of blood at a crime scene. As usual with Mary, you will find yourself learning a whole bunch of information you never knew you wanted to know, like how to tell the difference between a bear and a cougar kill. (No, not that sort of cougar, the one with fur and claws, a mountain lion, Geez! and no, no, no, not that sort of bear, creatures of the Ursus genus, not those other large hairy beasts. Stop that right now!) She considers issues with elephants, leopards, cougars, bears, macaques, gulls, vultures and other birds, rats and mice, trees, and beans. Come again? The lines here get a bit vague. It is not just animals that are the focus but some non-critter-based elements of nature as well. Sticking with critters for the moment, there are considerable challenges in managing the interface between people and animals. For instance, the vig that farm mice seem to extract from farmers regardless of what is done to get rid of them can turn peaceable crop-growers homicidal. Mary looks at the control methods that have been tried, and explores a promising, more laid-back approach. Rats in the Vatican (which is an outstanding name for a band, just sayin’) present the challenge of managing the property while taking seriously the lead of Saint Francis of Assisi, an animal rights figure of long-standing, and a major inspiration for Pope, ya know, Francis. Mary talks to the guy in charge of this problem (I could not help but imagine Father Guido Sarducci, sorry), the Vatican Director of Gardens and Garbage, Rafael Torning. The considerable Vatican rat population has a taste for wires, and damages a lot of machinery. VG&G does what they can, trying to avoid using nasty chemicals. But even so, aren’t there ethical concerns? So, she talks with the house bioethicist, Father Carlo. Let’s just say that if you could count the number of angels on the head of a pin, Father Carlo could very nicely twist all of them into pretzels with his words. A possible solution to half of the Vatican’s Gull-and-rats problem? - image from the Irish Sun The Vatican has a considerable problem with herring gulls as well, thousands of ‘em. None of this Mary Poppins Feed the Birds nonsense. The feathered rabble that descend on Saint Peter’s seem more like the gathered horde in that Hitchcock movie. You will not come away from this book fond of gulls. I found her lapsed-Catholic’s tour of the Vatican to be worth many, many indulgences, rich as it was with fun details and ambience. Chapters on elephants and leopards are particularly alarming. …when a leopard stalks and kills more than three or four people, villagers consider it a demon. - [it, clearly, considers them takeout] There was one historical case in which a single leopard killed over a hundred people. Mary travels with government and non-government people as they try to educate local populations in best practices for avoiding potential conflict. Not all leopard attacks are the same. You will learn the sorts. And not all attacking leopards are handled the same way. She looks at changes that have been at least partially implemented to try to reduce the carnage. (Indoor toilets, for example), and the challenges going forward in handling the problem, getting leopards to leave people alone. Leopard - image from Wild Cats India When it comes to elephants, Mary Roach knows her shit, literally. She reports on a Smithsonian project that measured daily defecation by an Indian elephant. A poop scooper will not do. Maybe a poop plow? 400 pounds, give or take, per diem. Elephants loom large as a danger, laying waste to crops, trampling fields and bulldozing buildings. People are sometimes accidentally trampled. Sometimes it is no accident, as when one elephant did a headstand on someone. A bull elephant in an elevated period of breeding excitement, called musth, is particularly aggressive and a mortal peril. She can also tell you about the effectiveness of small arms against big pachyderms. Keep your powder dry. Most bullets do little or no damage. Even a bit of armor-piercing ordnance intended for tanks needs a follow up to get the job done. Indian elephant in musth - image from Wikipedia Monkeys in India come in for a look. Macaques in particular, have made pests of themselves in urban areas, becoming aggressive thieves, to the point of violence, and even of extortion, as some will steal your phone, handing it back only when you pay the fee in food. Government officials struggle to come up with solutions, tough in a place where the monkey is a sacred animal. It is impossible to deliver directed doses of birth control without endangering other native wildlife, for example. Roach delivers a bleak portrait of official finger-pointing and inaction. Street Monkeys in India – image from Outlook While reporting on the damage done to area farms and people, and the impact of wildlife in places populated with humans, Roach does point out that a lot (all) of these conflicts result from people expanding into the native territory of dangerous or potentially pestiferous, animals. I was surprised that there were parts of the book dedicated to non-creature natural perils. The material is interesting, but thematically it felt a bit off the central topic. There is much surprise information (well, for me anyway) about “danger trees,” those fully grown trees that have come to the end of their lives, at least in terms of growing. They still serve as useful woodland citizens by providing places in which creatures can nest, wood in which bugs can live, biomaterials that will be absorbed back into the woods. This is all good, but there is still one problem. The rotting tops of these gentle souls can come crashing down on passers-by, unaware of the peril. The approach that is taken, by woodland managers makes one wonder whether it is better to yell “Timber” or “Fire in the Hole!” Decay throughout this tree makes it too hazardous to fell with a saw. It was felled with one bundle of fireline explosives taped to the side of the tree - image and text from the US Forest Service There is an element in this book that you should be aware of. The disposal of animals considered pests. This is of particular relevance in places where invasive species have arrived and laid waste to significant segments of the local fauna, and/or flora. Not all of these are the usual suspects, stowaway rats wiping out bird populations with their fondness for eggs, brown snakes, ditto and far too many others, often foolishly introduced by people attempting to counteract an earlier invasives problem. Some of the invaders are adorable and not on your likely list of things that MUST BE EXTERMINATED NOW. Mary looks at the techniques attempted (usually failed) and on the thought that goes into trying to make a creature’s passing as quick as possible. You might want to skip that chapter (14). Many of my daily companions are on that list and, although I did read it all, it was disquieting at times. Just lettin’ ya know. I hope this does not turn you off the book if you are otherwise interested. She does focus on ways in which people can live in coexistence with nature. This includes a greater understanding of the deer-in-the-headlights syndrome, and a workable approach for reducing roadway carnage. Deer in the headlights - image from Bryans Blog I have issues with the titling of the book. The raised-patch addition to the hardcover jacket goes very nicely with the patches my wife and I picked up at many US National Parks. Mary might have called it Nature Gone Wild, but that was already taken. Naming it Fuzz, though, (maintaining the tradition of single-syllable Mary Roach book titles) does make it seem like it is about the police-type officials who are charged with coping when forces of nature interfere with people. Although there were indeed some badged officials in her stable of interviewees and guides through these fascinating worlds, she spoke as often with people who were researchers or administrators, and the stories were about the problems, not so much the law enforcers. Many may be related to parks here and there. Some were employed by wildlife services, but it just did not sit well with me. Her reporting is as much about a wider view of the issues as it is about the direct, Book-em, Danno “crimes” supposedly perpetrated on people by the furry or feathered set. So, I will not shy away from this. When it comes to actually describing what the book is about the title is decidedly fuzzy. There. I did it, and I am not sorry. Well, ok, maybe a little. Not that I can come up with anything better, just whining. That done, it is clear that wherever Mary Roach shines her light there will be surprises, there will be new knowledge, and there will be smiles, lots and lots of smiles, covered with copious quantities of laughter. Follow along behind Mary as she opens some closed doors, peeks into some hidden corners, and pesters defenseless officials to find fascinating, wondrous real-world material. Even despite that one grim chapter, I found myself reacting as I always do to a Mary Roach book, laughing out loud, often, very, very often. There is a definite joy in trailing after Mary as she shines her very bright light into unseen corners and calls back “Hey guys, come see what I found!” If you have enjoyed her books before, this one should do quite nicely. There is nothing fuzzy about that at all. Feeding animals, as we know, is the quickest path to conflict. The promise of food motivates normally human-shy animals to take a risk. The risk-taking is rewarded, and the behavior escalates. Shyness becomes fearlessness, and fearlessness becomes aggression. If you don’t hand over the food you are carrying, the monkey will grab it. If you try to hold onto it, or push the animal away…it may slap you. Or bite you. The Times of India put the number of monkey bites reported by Delhi hospitals in 2018 at 950. [When your teenager makes of with your car, just remember that it all began when they were small, and you made the mistake of offering them food] Review posted – October 29, 2021 Publication date – September 21, 2021 I received this book from Barnes & Noble in return for cold, hard cash ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I moved it to the Comments section directly below. But in Summer 2021, GR disallowed the use of external links in the Comments section, so I have posted the entire review, including EXTRA STUFF, on my site, Coot’s Reviews. Stop by and say Hi!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    A few years ago my partner and I were hiking in a state park in Maryland. Because it makes me feel free to pee in the woods my bladder is weak, I had to heed the call of nature about half way through our hike.  I moved off the path, checking the ground for poison ivy (I made that mistake once and it's not one I'd like to make again). Finding a clear spot, I squatted.  When I pee in the woods, I scan all around in case someone is coming. I don't know why because if I can see them, they can see me a A few years ago my partner and I were hiking in a state park in Maryland. Because it makes me feel free to pee in the woods my bladder is weak, I had to heed the call of nature about half way through our hike.  I moved off the path, checking the ground for poison ivy (I made that mistake once and it's not one I'd like to make again). Finding a clear spot, I squatted.  When I pee in the woods, I scan all around in case someone is coming. I don't know why because if I can see them, they can see me and once my pants are down around my ankles, well....  So anyway, there I was squatting and feeling free and looking all around. Suddenly, a large black furry thing entered the periphery of my vision. Bear! my mind screamed! I don't know for sure but I think my pee stopped mid-stream.  "S!" I whisper-yelled. "S! There's a bear! Right behind us!" S looked around and, city dweller that she is, said, "Are you sure? It's probably a dog." "YES!" I whisper-screamed again. "I'm sure! It's a bear, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!"  I stood, pulling up my pants, ready to flee. The big, furry bear came running in our direction, passing a couple yards away. Abruptly, perhaps catching our scent, it came to a halt and turned around. "I think you're right, Jenna," S said (now also in a whisper). "Dogs don't run that fast!" When I get scared, I tend to laugh maniacally and shout "fuck" over and over.  "Ha, ha, FUCK, ha haaaa!" I cackled, forgetting to whisper-yell.  With that, the bear suddenly rose, higher and higher and higher. Black bears, when standing upright, are between five and seven feet tall. In my memory, however, this was a giant bear, looming twenty feet above us.  "Oh my god, fuck, ha, ha, ha. Fuck!"  "Shhh! What should we do?" S hissed, motioning for me to keep my voice down. My mind went from panic to 'take-control-of-the-situation' mode. I recalled having heard that when confronted by a bear, you should make a lot of noise and make yourself appear larger.  Waving my arms in the air, I started yelling "Whoooooo!!!!! GRRRRRRR! EeeeeyAAAAAAhhhh! Boom, boom BOOOM!". The confused bear did not turn and run. Instead, it kept looking at us, at me, no doubt wondering what the fuck I was doing and why I didn't realise I just looked like an idiot. "Oh, fuck, ha, haaa, haaa! S, I don't think it's working! Ha, haaa, haaa-fuck!" I turned around to see S holding a log, yes, a freaking log, above her head. I don't know how she managed to do that; it must be like in those stories you hear of women lifting entire cars off a child. Her fear gave her strength, whereas mine just made me laugh and curse like a crazy person.  It made me feel safer to see her with that log, even though I figured it wouldn't do jack-shit to stop the bear if it decided to eat us. It continued to stare at us, nose sniffing the air.  "S!", I whisper-yelled, the shouts not having worked. "I think we need to run!".  We had seen how fast that bear could go, much faster than us, but I didn't know what else to do. Not only can bears run fast, they can shimmy up a tree in seconds. We took off racing in the opposite direction. S, with the hundred pound log above her head, instructed me to call for help.  "Ha, ha, ha! Who do I call, fuck! I don't know who to call, ha hah, haaaa!" Of course, even if I'd known who to call, it's not like anyone could get to us, a few miles up the trail. There wasn't time for a ranger to come and stop that bear from mauling us if it decided it'd had enough of my antics. We weren't in the city after all, with a police station just around the corner. We ran and ran, S with her log and me giggling and cursing, all those miles back to civilization. Near the beginning of the trail, a woman was walking towards us. Knowing we must appear like lunatics, I tried to explain. "BEAR! Bear ahead!" I managed to get out. I hope she didn't get eaten because she continued on, looking at us like we'd escaped from an asylum. Well, if she was eaten, it's not my fault. She shouldn't judge crazy-looking women fleeing the woods, even if they're laughing hysterically or running with a twenty foot log above their head.  Thankfully we didn't get eaten, though it was no thanks to me. Maybe S saved us with that log or, more likely, the bear never had any intention of bothering us.  Had Mary Roach published her book Fuzz a few years ago, I might have known not to act like I did. As she explains, you only need to make noise and attempt to look larger if a bear's ears are lying flat. Our bear had no intention of messing with us.  Of course, if I ever see a bear again, I'll still be scared and unable to control my laughing and cursing. When you suddenly encounter a large animal in the woods, it's kinda hard not to be scared. You're reminded that we humans are pretty damn weak.  Ok, let's talk about the book. Mary Roach is, as always, entertaining, writing in a lighthearted way about things that aren't all that lighthearted.  We humans like to think we're above nature and everything should bow to us. Animals should stay out of our environments, even as we take more and more of theirs. Plants should know which ones are weeds and stop growing where they're unwanted. We use all kinds of methods to rid our world of life we don't like.  Mary Roach travels around the world talking to people whose jobs it is to control animal populations and "keep them in their place". They're nature's "fuzz", the police of the natural world.  At times it was difficult to read and it's not as funny as Ms. Roach's previous books. Some of the methods of curtailing animal populations or dealing with "killer" animals are downright cruel.  However, in India, where gods and goddesses often take the form of animals, attitudes about animals are different than in the west. I enjoyed reading about the way they handle and think about elephants and macaques. The macaques are especially amusing and she related one story about a macaque that got into a medical center and took to pulling the IVs from patients' arms to drink the glucose water. I suppose it wasn't so amusing to the patients and nurses....  In the west, many people are now calling for more humane methods than previously used, or are content to reside alongside other animals. Hopefully in the future, we'll stop killing animals just because they're somewhere we don't want them to be. As Ms. Roach sensibly points out, "Supermarkets and chain stores don’t poison shoplifters; they come up with better ways to outsmart them." There are lots of fun facts in this book, including facts about scat and how to identify not just the animal it came from, but its health, its gender, the number in the area, and more. Ms Roach added drawings of big cat scat and I amused myself by noting the similarities to my Chloe's poo (very similar to that of a lion and a bobcat, but not as long. You're welcome.) I had to skip over a few of the more disturbing ways we "handle pests" but for the most part, enjoyed learning many new things in this book. And if I encounter another bear in the future, hopefully I'll remain calm, appreciate its beauty, and take a selfie. Unless those ears go down and then...... Ha haa haaaa fuck!!!!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Man vs. Nature. As we encroach further and further into territories once the feeding grounds of wild animals, clashes are inevitable, which is the focus of this book. Not just animals but threatening plants and invasive species are also discussed. Roach travels all over the world investigating the mitigation efforts that are being employed by various cultures in an attempt to protect people as well as animals. My favorite parts were the bears in Colorado, though I admit I can find them fascinatin Man vs. Nature. As we encroach further and further into territories once the feeding grounds of wild animals, clashes are inevitable, which is the focus of this book. Not just animals but threatening plants and invasive species are also discussed. Roach travels all over the world investigating the mitigation efforts that are being employed by various cultures in an attempt to protect people as well as animals. My favorite parts were the bears in Colorado, though I admit I can find them fascinating because I don't live where I would run into any. They infiltrate houses, stealing food, they can open the refrigerator, take out a carton of eggs and remove the eggs one by one. Monkeys that hold cell phone hostages until they are given food by the tourists. Yellow eyed penguins, only found in New Zealand that are now in danger of extinction. Much information in this book, sometimes a little too much, but as always her research seems impeccable. Her trademark humor is inserted here and there but not as much as in some of her works. ARC by Edelweiss.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The topic of Mary Roach’s eighth (!) book is human-wildlife conflict, or, what problems arise when humans and the natural world attempt to co-exist in the same spaces. She discusses things like using forensic work to deduce whether or not a wild animal was responsible for an attack on a human, elephants destroying rice crops, and even using gene modification to drive a pest species into extinction. It’s an entert Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The topic of Mary Roach’s eighth (!) book is human-wildlife conflict, or, what problems arise when humans and the natural world attempt to co-exist in the same spaces. She discusses things like using forensic work to deduce whether or not a wild animal was responsible for an attack on a human, elephants destroying rice crops, and even using gene modification to drive a pest species into extinction. It’s an entertaining book, but doesn’t avoid the normal hangups associated with her work (see the above video for more on that).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Any reader who stumbles upon the work of Mary Roach may begin by being baffled, but is soon enthralled to learn some of these little-known scientific discoveries or actions being taken around the world. In this latest book, Roach explores the world of animals and their ‘bothersome activities’, as well as how humans have come to react. While it may seem odd at first, once the reader gets into the book, it becomes apparent what has been going on, even if some of the human reactions are unique or d Any reader who stumbles upon the work of Mary Roach may begin by being baffled, but is soon enthralled to learn some of these little-known scientific discoveries or actions being taken around the world. In this latest book, Roach explores the world of animals and their ‘bothersome activities’, as well as how humans have come to react. While it may seem odd at first, once the reader gets into the book, it becomes apparent what has been going on, even if some of the human reactions are unique or downright far-fetched. Peppering the narrative with great editorialising and some humour, Roach pens another winner that will educate while entertaining the curious reader. Murder is rampant in the animal kingdom, and not just among animals. Roach uses the first few chapters of her book to explore how animals and humans have come to collide and the results when humans straw the short straw. From bears roaming around in forests and mountain ranges in Canada to trampling elephants in rural India, animals have taken their share of victims over the last number of years. It’s such an issue that there are reactionary teams tasked with tracking down the offending animals and, at times relocating them, though capital punishment is not always off the table as well. Human-animal interactions have long occurred outside the traditional hunting mindset and the results, when humans are not properly equipped, can be downright devastating. Roach also takes readers on an interesting exploration of how smaller animals, fowl and four-legged, have caused havoc in a variety of ways. From flying buzzards who end up in the engines of planes to small rodents who target farmers’ fields, Roach documents the ways in which animals have come to become more of a pest than their beauty offsets. While she cannot always surmise a rational reason, she shows that there are many scientists working around the world to study or offer countermeasures, some of which are truly alarming, if you pardon the pun. Part human invasion on animal terrain, part curiosity on the part of creatures, Roach has the reader chuckling as they push through these chapters with glee. Discussion of humane ways in which humans have come to rid themselves of these pests is at the forefront of the discussion, though Roach saves it for the latter chapters. While the types of reactionary measures humans have when ‘pushing back’ against anima,s is almost inexhaustible, there has to be a degree of humanity, so as not to turn culling into torture. Roach takes the time to explore this, from use of glue traps to tasers designed to stun an animal. Technology has allowed a number of new products to flood the market, many of which take humanity into account. However, there are still those who prefer the ways of their ancestors, which may include arcane items sure to kill or mortally maim an animal and send it into agony for the hours it will take to succumb. Another perspective few take into account, but a formidable area for education. As with many of her other books, Roach presents her findings in a serious manner, while added some frivolity to the experience. This helps offset some of the darker or more troubling sections of the narrative, as well as permitting many readers to visualise that which they have not seen before. Roach writes in such a way that the narrative becomes a well-painted picture of what she is trying to express. Organising her findings in clear chapters helps to keep the reader engaged without drowning in too many details. Still, there’s something to be said about how vast the subject matter proves to be, as Roach is able to fill her book with anecdotes and lived experiences, not simply research she culled from books over the years. With a light-hearted presentation, Roach has made yet another reading experience one that I enjoyed and left me wondering where she will take readers next. Wherever that might be, I am happy to have a front row seat! Kudos, Madam Roach, for another stellar exploration on some of the lesser-known scientific areas of everyday life. I applaud you for your efforts and cannot recommend you enough to the curious reader. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Fuzz: ….a mass of short, curly hairs. Or ….to make or become fuzzy ….. Mary Roach gets us thinking about things we didn’t realize we need to think about. It’s hard to resist a Mary Roach book— She’s the most endearing scientist/author I know. (Three times we’ve met). When details flew over my head; I certainly didn’t understand everything— but Mary Roach managed to stimulate my thinking anyway…. ABOUT BIZARRE subjects—that seems less bizarre, after she kick-starts our thinking— on a new brain path. Fuzz: ….a mass of short, curly hairs. Or ….to make or become fuzzy ….. Mary Roach gets us thinking about things we didn’t realize we need to think about. It’s hard to resist a Mary Roach book— She’s the most endearing scientist/author I know. (Three times we’ve met). When details flew over my head; I certainly didn’t understand everything— but Mary Roach managed to stimulate my thinking anyway…. ABOUT BIZARRE subjects—that seems less bizarre, after she kick-starts our thinking— on a new brain path. Inside FUZZ … we read about Bears, elephants, leopards, (and ‘why’ they’re man-eaters)… Monkey’s (birth control possibilities?) Cougars, what animals eat, what they drink, how they sleep, and their many varied behaviors…. Along with meeting some folks who work for wildlife agencies. Elephants for example are vegetarian‘s. They like grains,grass, leaves, stems, twigs, bark, etc But Indian elephants won’t eat tea leaves. (too bitter). Ha, most humans don’t like to eat tea leaves either. So, along with learning about predatory behaviors—from our fuzzy friends (behaviors and feelings, etc)…. we also learn a little bit more about our human friends (some very caring), but animal cruelty, is ‘not’ fuzzy! Take for example…. Mary teaches us that suggested progressive USDA Wildlife Services operators give to property who call because they want a mountain lion killed for preying on their livestock or pets. Mary asks…. “What if Wildlife Services made these things a requirement rather than a suggestion? Better yet, what if they arranged and paid for the brush-clearing or the enclosures to be built? What if non-progressive operators had to start being progressive? Mary says…. “Let’s just say the ship is slow to turn. But it’s turning”. Mary Roche said: “I met a lot of good intelligent people at these agencies, professionals who saw their job as protecting people and animals both. But because of the financial model, it can be hard to set aside the nagging sense that institutional priorities are at play. The money is coming from hunters, to a large degree— and that makes it hard for agencies to win the trust of everyone else. (And creates perplexing mottoes like ‘Support Nevada’s Wildlife’. . . Buy a Hunting and Fishing License)” When a bear harms or kills a person, the state wildlife agency may be held liable, and bears, unlike planes, aren’t generating the revenue it would take to cover the costs. There were a couple of lawsuits recently, one in Utah and another in Arizona, where large payouts to families of the victims were paid out. We learn about how hunting alters behavior of the hunted…. and how hunting perpetuates fear and avoidance of humans…. … we learned about inebriated bull elephants (I kid you not)… and the horrors of elephants who electrocuted… Etc etc etc. and shhhh “how animals break the law”…. The human-wildlife squabbles are important… Both humans and animals need healthy boundaries. Mary Roach offers up her knowledge- research - her funny bone - her humbleness—all with the intention to deepening our understanding….animal wildlife. We are blessed with Mary’s fuzzy compassionate humanity and teachings. It’s impossible not to admire this woman.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Humorous science writer Mary Roach's latest book involves the "crimes" committed against mankind by an unlikely culprit - nature. From animals who bite the hands that shouldn't be feeding them to trees that have the audacity to fall on people . . . we are surrounded by impolite lawbreakers. Roach is one of my absolute favorite nonfiction authors, but this book left me feeling unsatisfied, and pretty depressed. Her usual witty quips don't really work here when we discover that most encounters be Humorous science writer Mary Roach's latest book involves the "crimes" committed against mankind by an unlikely culprit - nature. From animals who bite the hands that shouldn't be feeding them to trees that have the audacity to fall on people . . . we are surrounded by impolite lawbreakers. Roach is one of my absolute favorite nonfiction authors, but this book left me feeling unsatisfied, and pretty depressed. Her usual witty quips don't really work here when we discover that most encounters between humans and hungry animals don't end well for the critters. Unhappy subject matter aside, this book seems padded, packed full of irrelevant tidbits to stretch it to book length. I also couldn't help comparing Roach's book to one on the same subject matter that I enjoyed much more - Animals Behaving Badly: Boozing Bees, Cheating Chimps, Dogs with Guns, and Other Beastly True Tales If you want a quick sum-up, it is this - Feeding wild animals is the quickest path to conflict.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janet Newport

    Oh, those fun footnotes! The ethical questions!

  10. 5 out of 5

    karen

    review to come! review to come!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach I love Mary Roach's books! I always learn, laugh, get a little grossed out, and am surprised by her tenacity. In this book we find out how different animals and plants are a danger to us but we are the ones to blame. She doesn't say that but when you look at each situation and scenario, man has encroached on, pushed out, or starved out native animals. Encounters are inevitable. Other situations too cause interactions such as garbage. I found the tree s Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach I love Mary Roach's books! I always learn, laugh, get a little grossed out, and am surprised by her tenacity. In this book we find out how different animals and plants are a danger to us but we are the ones to blame. She doesn't say that but when you look at each situation and scenario, man has encroached on, pushed out, or starved out native animals. Encounters are inevitable. Other situations too cause interactions such as garbage. I found the tree section a bit boring and a lot of other sections have been covered on nature shows but she goes beyond this. She goes to a class to figure out how to tell if a human, bear, or cougar killed a person based on the marks on the body! Like I said, tenacity!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    When I first paged through (The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals), I wondered if it might be an ambitious hoax. Here were bears formally excommunicated from the Church. Slugs given three warnings to stop nettling farmers, under penalty of “smiting.” But the author, a respected historian and linguist, quickly wore me down with a depth of detail gleaned from original documents, nineteen of which are reproduced in their original languages in a series of appendices. We have the When I first paged through (The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals), I wondered if it might be an ambitious hoax. Here were bears formally excommunicated from the Church. Slugs given three warnings to stop nettling farmers, under penalty of “smiting.” But the author, a respected historian and linguist, quickly wore me down with a depth of detail gleaned from original documents, nineteen of which are reproduced in their original languages in a series of appendices. We have the itemized expense report of a French bailiff, submitted in 1403 following the murder trial of a pig (“cost of keeping her in jail, six sols parisis”). We have writs of ejectment issued to rats and thrust into their burrows. From a 1545 complaint brought by vintners against a species of greenish weevil, we have not only the names of the lawyers but early examples of that time-honored legal tactic, the stall. As far as I could tell, the proceedings dragged on eight or nine months — in any case, longer than the lifespan of a weevil. I present all this not as evidence of the silliness of bygone legal systems but as evidence of the intractable nature of human-wildlife conflict — as it is known today by those who grapple with it professionally. The question has defied satisfactory resolution for centuries: What is the proper course when nature breaks laws intended for people? I like Mary Roach: I like the enthusiasm she brings to her research, I like her voice and her compassion, her globe-trotting travel writing and her gentle humour. But I don’t know if I love her books: Whenever I see a new release, I think, “Oh yeah, I like Mary Roach”, but I’ve never given one of her books more than three stars. When I saw that Fuzz was available on NetGalley, I once again said, “Oh, yes please”, and again, three stars (which, in my reckoning, is a solid read, just not life-altering). I’m sure I will read Roach again — I will always think of her as an author I like — and for other readers who like her, I’ve no doubt they’ll like this book, too. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Animals don’t follow laws, they follow instincts. Almost without exception, the wildlife in these pages are simply animals doing what animals do: feeding, shitting, setting up a home, defending themselves or their young. They just happen to be doing these things to, or on, a human, or that human’s home or crops. Nonetheless the conflicts exist, creating dilemmas for people and municipalities, hardships for wildlife, and material for someone else’s unusual book. Between that opening bit about the history of people suing animals and the publisher’s blurb (What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? ), I thought this book was going to be quite a bit weirder than it actually is. What Fuzz actually entails is Mary Roach joining wildlife officers around the world as they try to find the most humane methods of preventing animals from inconveniencing the humans who have decided to build a home in the animals’ territory. This can involve hunting, trapping and relocating, poisoning, and at the cutting edge of wildlife control, gene-editing. The stories, and the overall format of Roach learning something and seeing where that leads to next, became a little samey-same, but it was consistently interesting (except for maybe where the chapter about “killer trees” — in which Roach joined some arborists as they lopped the tops off of dead Douglas firs on Vancouver Island — led into a chapter on the killing potential of castor beans and rosary peas; semi-interesting but felt really off topic.) As always, Roach is an interesting storyteller with an offbeat sense of humour: • I collect my lunch sack and follow along behind a small group of conservation officers heading to the lawn outside. Their leather hiking boots squeak as they walk. “So she looks in her rearview mirror,” one is saying, “and there’s a bear in the back seat, eating popcorn.” When wildlife officers gather at a conference, the shop talk is outstanding. Last night I stepped onto the elevator as a man was saying, “Ever tase an elk?” • The tiny bodega isn’t so much ransacked as flattened. A wall of corrugated steel lies crumpled beneath a concrete support beam. On another occasion, an elephant broke into Padma’s home while she slept. This is a place where “the elephant in the room” is not a metaphor, where elephant jokes are no joke. What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? Probably around 11: 00 p.m. • “And there is the border with Italy!” I follow Tornini’s gaze to the massive wall that surrounds the Holy See. A gull glides over. There’s your symbol of peace, I think to myself. A bird, any bird, soaring over walls, ignoring borders! Peace, freedom, unity! It’s possible I’ve had too many espressos. And, of course, I learned plenty: “Gooney bird” comes from the term used by the US military for the albatrosses that live on Guam and would fly into jet engines; birds’ innards will not explode if they eat raw rice at weddings (just note the birds that help themselves to rice growing in farmers’ fields); “compensatory reproduction” describes the process by which species will increase their litters and broods to make up for numbers lost to mass culling. Roach always introduces interesting vocabulary and some of my favourite new words were: frass (insect excreta), snarge (the remains of a bird after it has collided with an airplane), kronism (the eating of one’s own offspring). For centuries, people have killed trespassing wildlife — or brought in someone to do it for them — without compunction and with scant thought to whether it’s done humanely. We have detailed protocols for the ethical treatment and humane “euthanizing” of laboratory rats and mice, but no formal standards exist for the rodents or raccoons in our homes and yards. We leave the details to the exterminators and the “wildlife control operators,” the latter a profession that got rolling when the bottom dropped out of the fur market and trappers realized they could make better money getting squirrels out of people’s attics. It’s probably not surprising that Roach comes down on the side of the animals everywhere they come in conflict with humans; not only are the critters just doing what critters do (and rarely are they doing as much harm to humans as the media likes to portray), but short of driving a species to extinction, we’re not very good at managing animal numbers or behaviours. This really isn’t the book I expected it to be (the subtitle about nature “breaking the law” is kind of misleading) but I enjoyed myself and learned some things; I will read Mary Roach again.

  13. 5 out of 5

    La Crosse County Library

    It's been awhile since I've read a Mary Roach book, and I definitely missed it! Fuzz lived up to the science and the hype in every way. Covering a wealth of animal-human conflicts, the author offers a broad amount of information in fascinating detail, and one mustn't skip the footnotes, which are just as full of humor as they are history and science. From bears, coyotes, and mountain lions to tigers and macaques to albatross and mice - even trees! -Fuzz covers quite a lofty amount of animal-human It's been awhile since I've read a Mary Roach book, and I definitely missed it! Fuzz lived up to the science and the hype in every way. Covering a wealth of animal-human conflicts, the author offers a broad amount of information in fascinating detail, and one mustn't skip the footnotes, which are just as full of humor as they are history and science. From bears, coyotes, and mountain lions to tigers and macaques to albatross and mice - even trees! -Fuzz covers quite a lofty amount of animal-human conflicts. Roach discusses what the issues are, what's been tried, what happens now, and what the impact is, which is the question at the crux of the book. Who's really at conflict with who? Who's to say our needs are more important? What is a sentient being? Fuzz is a book about ethics, and their evolution as much as ours. I learned so much from this book and laughed out loud often too. Ultimately, Roach's book is a modern discussion of overpopulation and conservation, examining research and processes from around the world. The simple fact is as humans require more space to live in, we should expect more animals to enter that space. If we make their lives more difficult, or their territory smaller, they will encroach into our spaces more. Quite often, we are the ones teaching them bad habits. -Jess Find this book and other titles within our catalog.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    When I first picked up Fuzz, I thought it was going to be about bear attacks and scary bear encounters. I’m not sure why I had that idea, maybe it was the bear on the cover and the tagline “When Nature Breaks the Law.” Although the first two chapters are indeed about bears, it isn’t about attacks at all, but about the challenges of coexistence. Human laws don’t always agree with the laws of nature, and when they don’t, do we call the fuzz? Mary Roach put a lot of work into this book and it’s full When I first picked up Fuzz, I thought it was going to be about bear attacks and scary bear encounters. I’m not sure why I had that idea, maybe it was the bear on the cover and the tagline “When Nature Breaks the Law.” Although the first two chapters are indeed about bears, it isn’t about attacks at all, but about the challenges of coexistence. Human laws don’t always agree with the laws of nature, and when they don’t, do we call the fuzz? Mary Roach put a lot of work into this book and it’s full of fascinating and easy to read wildlife biology. She investigated how people all over the globe react to conflicts with wildlife: from bears in the streets of Aspen, to the elephants and monkeys in India, and even the gulls who disturb the Pope’s flowers in the Vatican. We often respond hastily with lethal measures to a perceived danger or nuisance, but Roach shows us how many people are exploring other ways that don’t involve suffering or death. This book may appeal to you more if you don’t mind a small dose of animal activism, but even if that’s not the case (and most of the people interviewed for Fuzz, including researchers, biologists, and wildlife officers, who all love wildlife but are often more interested in hunting than activism), you will still enjoy the outstanding analysis of how the human-wildlife dynamic plays a role in our everyday lives. Some of the most interesting sections discuss how humans attempt to manipulate animal populations through poisoning, trapping, and even genetic engineering aimed at eliminating entire populations. She also questions the logic of how we select species to rally behind, and suggests that it’s often based on emotional reasons, what she calls “charismatic megafauna,” where the large and beautiful species, like mountain lions, get the attention of humans for reasons unrelated to conservation or ideas of equity. Fuzz has a casual and humorous tone, and the jokes keep coming, which makes it easy reading despite all the excellent science. There are many valuable footnotes, too, adding all sorts of tangential facts that will have you hopping on the computer to do more research. If you’re interested in animals, then you’ll love this read. - Andrew S.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Weird and wonderful stories about nature! Review to follow.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paperclippe

    Y'know, it's really hard to review a Mary Roach book. I realized this when I was trying to explain my utter delight while reading Fuzz to a bunch of folks whom I would normally recommend books to, and the conversation would inevitably start off with, "You know Mary Roach? The science wri... well, not science exactly, it's more like... Well, she wrote that book, Stiff, about all the things you can do with your body when you're dead?" That's a conversation starter. Anyway, you either know Mary Roac Y'know, it's really hard to review a Mary Roach book. I realized this when I was trying to explain my utter delight while reading Fuzz to a bunch of folks whom I would normally recommend books to, and the conversation would inevitably start off with, "You know Mary Roach? The science wri... well, not science exactly, it's more like... Well, she wrote that book, Stiff, about all the things you can do with your body when you're dead?" That's a conversation starter. Anyway, you either know Mary Roach, or you don't. And if you know Mary Roach, then please know that Fuzz had maybe the most back-to-back laugh-out-loud Mary Roach moments of any of her books that I've had the please to reading, and if you know Mary Roach, you know that that's a lot. A lot. As always, too, Roach is well-researched, informative, humble, humorous, and endlessly readable, even when talking about, okay let's be real, people sometimes being eaten by wild animals... Which I guess is one more thing you can do with your body after you die?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    3.5, rounded down. I've read all but one of Roach's sui generis books - the only exception being Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, since war is of little interest to me. I almost skipped this one also, since the topic didn't really have the cachet/fascination of her books on say, cadavers or sex. This is all about animal pests and predators, and human attempts to either co-exist or eradicate them. As such, it ALSO doesn't lend itself too well to Roach's trademark snarky sense of humor, 3.5, rounded down. I've read all but one of Roach's sui generis books - the only exception being Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, since war is of little interest to me. I almost skipped this one also, since the topic didn't really have the cachet/fascination of her books on say, cadavers or sex. This is all about animal pests and predators, and human attempts to either co-exist or eradicate them. As such, it ALSO doesn't lend itself too well to Roach's trademark snarky sense of humor, which is one of the prime selling points of her writing. Still, some interesting facts and I do feel smarter for having read it - just a smidge disappointed that I only chuckled a couple of times.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rennie

    This was ok. She’s undoubtedly a charming writer, very funny, and an excellent science translator/communicator, but the reason why I haven’t read anything of hers yet other than Spook is that the topics really just don’t appeal to me at all. Like they pique zero interest whatsoever. Which was my major problem here. I just had a hard time getting interested enough in any of it. Her humor is the major plus, as are the couple of factoids here and there I’m glad to learn. But also a lot of it is jus This was ok. She’s undoubtedly a charming writer, very funny, and an excellent science translator/communicator, but the reason why I haven’t read anything of hers yet other than Spook is that the topics really just don’t appeal to me at all. Like they pique zero interest whatsoever. Which was my major problem here. I just had a hard time getting interested enough in any of it. Her humor is the major plus, as are the couple of factoids here and there I’m glad to learn. But also a lot of it is just really sad, because as usual it’s more examples of how humans screw up nature and then kill everything that’s getting in our way now because we screwed it up. Blergh.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    love me some mary roach. honestly my interest was waning a bit towards the end of this one, but she really brought it home with the footnotes, which in audio were all stacked together at the end. brilliantly out of context and very enjoyable

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elmira

    Mary Roach's "Fuzz" is as fantastically funny and compulsively readable as her previous books! She is the queen of taking an obscure subject and investigating the science behind it in great detail. Yet her books are lighthearted in nature as well as relaxing to read. In this book, Mary Roach investigates the science behind many negative interactions between humans and wildlife all over the world. There are discussion of the obvious and much publicized wildlife dangers like bears, elephants, wolve Mary Roach's "Fuzz" is as fantastically funny and compulsively readable as her previous books! She is the queen of taking an obscure subject and investigating the science behind it in great detail. Yet her books are lighthearted in nature as well as relaxing to read. In this book, Mary Roach investigates the science behind many negative interactions between humans and wildlife all over the world. There are discussion of the obvious and much publicized wildlife dangers like bears, elephants, wolves, jaguars, and cougars. Then there are chapters about nuisance animals that you may not have considered: rabbits, starlings, squirrels, monkeys, opossums, raccoons, macaques, and seagulls. At what point are these animals enough of a nuisance to be put to death? What is the most painless way to put them to death? Are cute animals more worthy of life than ugly animals? Will reducing the number of one type of animal in an ecosystem have unforeseen effects on other species in that area? There are a lot of subjects covered in these pages, including not only science, but also politics, ethics, philosophy, and religion. It is an informative book that will have you reading funny passages out loud to your family!

  21. 4 out of 5

    John of Canada

    There's something about Mary. I read her books very slowly and pay attention because I know she revisits her ideas, facts and people unexpectedly. She is the star of Fuzz, but she is never egotistical. Her knowledge of science is impressive but she doesn't bog you down with esoteric jargon. E.g. "that's a serious fucking rat infestation" but she will introduce you to new words e.g. snarge: tissue(usually of birds)scraped from an airplane. Mary is very honest about what she doesn't know. "Like m There's something about Mary. I read her books very slowly and pay attention because I know she revisits her ideas, facts and people unexpectedly. She is the star of Fuzz, but she is never egotistical. Her knowledge of science is impressive but she doesn't bog you down with esoteric jargon. E.g. "that's a serious fucking rat infestation" but she will introduce you to new words e.g. snarge: tissue(usually of birds)scraped from an airplane. Mary is very honest about what she doesn't know. "Like many people, I have some qualms about genetic engineering and its possible future. Also like many people, I know diddly about how it works." and "But how does the enzyme get in there?" I'm whining." "They're literally injecting mouse embryos"says Kevin. "Using,like,super-tiny dollhouse hypodermics?" "I want to see these." She reduces things 'to the simplest level' a term she uses in this book. I have changed my mind about a lot of ideas while reading this book. There are surprises galore, and I laughed a lot. Her acknowledgements were heartfelt. The only quibble I had was no index, but I think the solution for me,is to re-read the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    lilias

    Despite it being interesting in parts, I do wish this book had been more like the book I expected. Sometimes being surprised by a book can be a pleasant experience, but in the case of Fuzz, it was a jarring disappointment with a constant feeling of dissonance. Given my familiarity with Roach’s writing and the subtitle of this book being “When Nature Breaks the Law,” here’s what I expected: The podcast Wine & Crime aired an episode about animals being taken to court during the Middle Ages for cri Despite it being interesting in parts, I do wish this book had been more like the book I expected. Sometimes being surprised by a book can be a pleasant experience, but in the case of Fuzz, it was a jarring disappointment with a constant feeling of dissonance. Given my familiarity with Roach’s writing and the subtitle of this book being “When Nature Breaks the Law,” here’s what I expected: The podcast Wine & Crime aired an episode about animals being taken to court during the Middle Ages for crimes they’d committed. Think: rats who had been accused of stealing barley and were thus taken to court. I thought this was the kind of thing Fuzz would talk about. I accepted there would also most likely be sections about animals in present-day who had attacked and killed humans or other animals. Maybe, at a stretch, I wondered whether Roach might include the time Montreal banned pit bulls. Here’s what I got: The first chapter does cover the forensics of animal attacks, and that was a good start. The book, however, quickly slips deeper into animal control rather than in the direction of animals going through the human legal system I had hoped for. And when I say animal control, I mean mass slaughters of tens and hundreds of thousands of animals; mostly birds and rodents. And while I appreciate knowing the straight facts of the outrageous historical and present day methods of animal control, I really hated reading about one example of mass brutality against animals after another. While Roach is on the side of the animals, her usual quips did not blend well with this particular content. (Again, I really wish I could read her take on the rats who had their own lawyer.) Topics Roach explored like poisonous plants and India’s attempts at humane monkey population control were interesting enough, but it was a stretch, really, to say this is nature breaking the law. This book is really about the means by which humans attempt to curb population growth of animals deemed pests or dangerous. With a few exceptions, each chapter was about the evolution humans killing species of animal en masse in detail. That it was set to the tune of Roach’s witty writing that I so enjoyed in Stiff was all the more disconcerting. It really did not work for me. The actual topic of this book would have been better under the guidance of, perhaps, an investigative journalist; a muckraker of sorts. And I would have avoided the book based on the topic and read whatever article summarized the information, instead.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aldi

    Mary Roach remains my long-standing inappropriate pop-science crush (to the point where, upon realising she’d been to visit New Zealand semi-recently for this book, I gasped my shocked betrayal that she’d come to see little yellow-eyed penguins and not meeeee. Mary! What do those splat-footed little feathery hussies have that I don’t? Aside from their overall adorableness, threatened conservation status, and book material potential, that is? Sigh.) Like her previous books, this was well-researche Mary Roach remains my long-standing inappropriate pop-science crush (to the point where, upon realising she’d been to visit New Zealand semi-recently for this book, I gasped my shocked betrayal that she’d come to see little yellow-eyed penguins and not meeeee. Mary! What do those splat-footed little feathery hussies have that I don’t? Aside from their overall adorableness, threatened conservation status, and book material potential, that is? Sigh.) Like her previous books, this was well-researched and engagingly written, full of her trademark wit, persistence to engage with knowledgeable parties, and utter commitment to finding answers. The topic (human/animal conflict as a result of habitat sharing, and the various approaches thereto) actually paired well with David Quammen’s Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, a book I read a few months ago, though Fuzz’s focus was different and went beyond large predators to include various species considered agricultural and/or invasive pests. Some of the content was humorous (loved the inclusion of the Deer Lady anecdote), some – like the section on combing debris for 9/11 victims’ remains while being harried by hungry birds, yikes – deeply sobering. At all times, though, it was fascinating and I wandered off on many a side trip for additional reading (including an entire paper on the cannibalistic habits of herring gulls, lol – what can I say, it was intriguing). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chapter on pest eradication in New Zealand engaged me the most on a personal level. As someone who’s lived here long enough to share most of the nation’s fierce love for our native species (especially the kakapo, the most bumbling, ridiculous, semi-doomed darling nonsense bird to ever fail at almost every aspect of life without some serious help) but was not raised here and therefore did not absorb a deeply-entrenched hatred of “pest” species (mostly possums, stoats, and rats) in the womb, I have and continue to struggle with NZ’s commitment to the eradication of invasive species. While there’s widespread support for the eradication measures, I’ve seen and heard extreme positions from either end of the spectrum, from those who just want humans to stop meddling entirely to those who literally call for legislation forcing every single New Zealander who owns a cat to have it put down. Personally, I probably fall somewhere in the middle and have no good answers but I’ve always (uselessly, I know) felt rather bad for the species that didn’t ask to be introduced here and are just living according to their nature. Every time I’m out on a hike and spot a possum bait trap, it makes me a little sad, even as I appreciate the necessity. Because you know what else are species invasive to New Zealand that fuck up the native ecosystem? Sheep. Cows. Dogs. Fucking humans. It’s tricky. But I really enjoyed getting Mary’s perspective on it. I have always loved Mary Roach’s style of writing – not just the humour of it (though that’s ever a delight) but the degree of personal commitment and embarrassment-free, game-for-anything spirit she puts into every one of these hunts for knowledge. The world is so full of people who are set in their ways or regard the unknown with suspicion – just knowing that someone is out there who is so relentlessly interested in learning new things that they’ll cheerfully sample rat bait or impersonate a tracking hound on busy inner-city streets, trying to sniff out the scent trail of some overly cologned rando, gives me so much joy. I hope she’ll keep writing books about it. PS: Linguistic pet peeve, but I really wish someone had double-checked on Māori language conventions when editing this book - it's kakapo, kiwi, and kea, no plural 's' involved. I know it seems like a minor thing but when it comes to minority languages with a long history of erasure attempts and resistance, it's even more important to try and use them correctly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    This was as charming as it was terrifying. I’ve never read Mary Roach before, but I was prepared for a certain level of sly asides and witty turns of phrase. I was less prepared for the heavy-hitting look at all the ways we slaughter animals in the name of safety, commerce, and convenience. The more I think about this book, the more I admire what Roach did: it starts out with some relatively lighthearted stories about thieving monkeys and ends with hints into the way big agriculture is turning t This was as charming as it was terrifying. I’ve never read Mary Roach before, but I was prepared for a certain level of sly asides and witty turns of phrase. I was less prepared for the heavy-hitting look at all the ways we slaughter animals in the name of safety, commerce, and convenience. The more I think about this book, the more I admire what Roach did: it starts out with some relatively lighthearted stories about thieving monkeys and ends with hints into the way big agriculture is turning to genetic science to kill more effectively. There is a certain repetitive quality to some of the stories here, and Roach’s desire to keep the reader laughing throughout can occasionally grate, but this is pop science with a message and a book that will leave you thinking. I loved it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

    Mary Roach has been called "America's Funniest Science Writer." Her books are so well researched and have taught me a lot of quirky things about quite a few subjects: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. She's my favorite nerd! Mary Roach has been called "America's Funniest Science Writer." Her books are so well researched and have taught me a lot of quirky things about quite a few subjects: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. She's my favorite nerd!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erikka

    I swear, this woman could write a book about air and make it interesting and hilarious. Mary Roach is my favorite nonfiction author without parallel. She is simply perfection. This book sounds dull by description, but it is anything but. She is a genius at taking a topic like "animal control" and making it as interesting as any thriller novel. My husband and I both genuinely enjoyed this, as we have all her other books. I swear, this woman could write a book about air and make it interesting and hilarious. Mary Roach is my favorite nonfiction author without parallel. She is simply perfection. This book sounds dull by description, but it is anything but. She is a genius at taking a topic like "animal control" and making it as interesting as any thriller novel. My husband and I both genuinely enjoyed this, as we have all her other books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    Mary Roach excels at pop science - she takes a look at a subject you didn't know you were that interested in and makes you want to more by treating you to fascinating facts, drawing connections, and throwing in some spectacular one-liners that make you laugh out loud. In Fuzz, she looks at the places where nature and humans intersect - often to the dismay of the humans and to the eventual harm to the animals. It's sort of a more scientific, less sensational version of when animals attack, if the Mary Roach excels at pop science - she takes a look at a subject you didn't know you were that interested in and makes you want to more by treating you to fascinating facts, drawing connections, and throwing in some spectacular one-liners that make you laugh out loud. In Fuzz, she looks at the places where nature and humans intersect - often to the dismay of the humans and to the eventual harm to the animals. It's sort of a more scientific, less sensational version of when animals attack, if the show hosts had been actually interested in helping people understand what was behind the interaction and in exploring how that interaction may be avoided in the future. From tales of bear attacks, elephant attacks, monkey attacks, tree blowdowns, and more - Roach makes you see how human encroachment on our wild spaces makes these interactions more common. I was as fascinated by the science involved in trying to prevent these interactions -whether by encouraging avoidance, impacting population density, or more - as I was in the interactions themselves. The reality, even with Roach's deft touch with humor, is that often the animals come out on the losing end in these interactions. I appreciated that she spent time on the idea that ending an animal's life because it acted in self defense or reacted to our incursion into their environment wasn't something that should be taken lightly. She looks for places in the world where cultures recognize that an animal being an animal may result in a loss of human life, but it doesn't necessarily mean it should be a loss of the animal's life. All in all this was an engaging read that gave me the right mix of humor and thoughtfulness. I always learn when I read a Mary Roach book, and I always have a good time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Mary Roach's latest shares her particular style of the quirky science aspect of human life. This time, she sets her research and observations to our interactions with our non-human neighbors. Don't let the the cover fool you, this book goes beyond the USDA National Wildlife Research Centers implied by the cover and explores flora and fauna interaction across the globe. Our encounters and efforts to control other species is certainly voluminous, but some attempts are more interesting than others. Mary Roach's latest shares her particular style of the quirky science aspect of human life. This time, she sets her research and observations to our interactions with our non-human neighbors. Don't let the the cover fool you, this book goes beyond the USDA National Wildlife Research Centers implied by the cover and explores flora and fauna interaction across the globe. Our encounters and efforts to control other species is certainly voluminous, but some attempts are more interesting than others. I dreamed I was in an elephant stampede after reading one chapter, which was most unpleasant. Versus some of her other work, this volume seems heavier on the ethics than on the science. While gene-driving, chemistry, behavioral psychology and more fields are well represented, the questions tackled here circle back to *if* we should be manipulating other populations so dramatically. And if the answer our society replies is yes, then *how* we do so becomes quite a contentious debate. As usual, her humor and wit come through, particularly in her footnotes, which may be my favorite part of the book. And my favorite quote? Well, that is one about plant defense mechanisms. "In other words, it's not beans. It's plants, period. If you can't flee or maul or fire a gun, evolution may help you out with other, quieter ways to avoid being eaten." We may attempt to control mother nature, but she has her ways of fighting back.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    3.5 Who knew that the FAA lists the white tailed deer as the most dangerous animal to aircraft? Why? Because they cost more damage per collision than your average Canadian Goose strike, although bird strikes are much more common. These are the types of tidbits you can expect while reading this book. Extremely interesting. Note-this is not for the faint of heart as it does not shy away from what happens to wildlife when they interact with humans. Popsugar 2021-A book set entirely or mostly outdoo 3.5 Who knew that the FAA lists the white tailed deer as the most dangerous animal to aircraft? Why? Because they cost more damage per collision than your average Canadian Goose strike, although bird strikes are much more common. These are the types of tidbits you can expect while reading this book. Extremely interesting. Note-this is not for the faint of heart as it does not shy away from what happens to wildlife when they interact with humans. Popsugar 2021-A book set entirely or mostly outdoors

  30. 5 out of 5

    Keely

    In Fuzz, Mary Roach brings her trademark offbeat humor to exploring human-wildlife conflict. She looks at everything from bear break-ins in the western U.S., to bird interference with airplanes, to elephant attacks and marauding monkeys in India. In spite of her lighthearted approach, Roach lands on a serious conclusion: that attempts to peacefully coexist with wildlife tend to work better than eradication measures. Fuzz is informative and funny--a must read for fans of Mary Roach or anyone with In Fuzz, Mary Roach brings her trademark offbeat humor to exploring human-wildlife conflict. She looks at everything from bear break-ins in the western U.S., to bird interference with airplanes, to elephant attacks and marauding monkeys in India. In spite of her lighthearted approach, Roach lands on a serious conclusion: that attempts to peacefully coexist with wildlife tend to work better than eradication measures. Fuzz is informative and funny--a must read for fans of Mary Roach or anyone with an interest in wildlife and the environment. I recommend the audiobook, ready by Roach, as her wry delivery adds a layer of playfulness and fun.

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