Synopses & Reviews
Since the days of the Persian empire, caviar has trumpeted status, wealth, prestige, and sex appeal. Today it goes for up to one hundred dollars an ounce, and aficionados will go to extraordinary lengths to get their fill of it. According to acclaimed writer Richard Adams Carey, that's just the problem. In this spectacular jaunt, Carey immerses himself in the world of sturgeon, the fish that lays these golden eggs. What he finds is disturbing. Sturgeon population worldwide have declined 70 percent in the last twenty years, most drastically in the Caspian Sea. The beluga sturgeon, producer of the most coveted caviar, has climbed to number four on the World Wildlife Fund's most-endangered species list. Armed with a novelist's eye for human eccentricity and an investigator's nose for trouble Carey takes us on an illuminating journey across the globe to uncover, the secrets of the sturgeon. On that trek we meet the fascinating real-life characters both profiting from its scarcity and fighting to save it. A high-stakes cocktail of business, diplomacy, technology, and espionage, "The Philosopher Fish is, at its heart, the epic story of a 250-million year-old fish struggling to survive.
"With the humanism and narrative mastery that won him acclaim for Against the Tide, ecojournalist Carey weaves the story of an enigmatic fish and the 'multitude of hooks' in the 'gilded morsel.' Geneticists believe the sturgeon holds the key to understanding the secrets of vertebrate evolution; canny entrepreneurs, meanwhile, pursue it for the high prices it fetches. Navigating the eddies of avarice and ecological altruism, Carey baits with hard data, arresting first-person writing and well-wrought insights. This is the sort of nonfiction that, by virtue of the author's generalist assurance, can satisfy a broad readership. Students of global political economy, for example, will find plenty to admire in a book whose subject, viewed as a commodity, echoes and is imperiled by that of oil, the Caspian region's other black gold. Those with stateside interests e.g., American natural history and environmentalism will also find the work fascinating, as few creatures could better illuminate the rift between the utilitarian and the preservationist factions of the American environmental movement. The interconnected stories Carey shares converge in a deeper understanding of the human species, one whose desires are embodied as much by the gun-toting buccaneers of the Caspian coast as by the rain-slickered and lab-coated ranks of the world's sturgeon hatcheries. Agent, Gary Morris of the David Black Literary Agency. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)