Friday, April 24, 2009

#33: Ms. Zywica, Science Teacher

The Lizard King, by Bryan Christy

I chose to read this book because of the luring declaration on the cover, "The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers." After reading it I feel that passion is too romantic of a word to use, maybe it should be replaced with ravenousness. The author, Bryan Christy, does an adequate job of keeping the story interesting, but there are definitely moments when I wished he would have just gotten to the point. The book doesn’t focus on one single "Lizard King" rather it chronicles the lives of many smugglers and how the crown was passed through generations. The excitement of the book lies in the tales of how mass amounts of reptiles would pass right under the noses of custom agents and how the smugglers lived on the edge of reason often times risking losing their freedom forever if they were to be caught.
Amongst all the narratives of animal depredation the book does offer a hero, Chip Bepler, a Special Agent for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Bepler is portrayed as being just as devoted to catching and prosecuting smugglers as the smugglers are about obtaining the most exclusive reptile species. Bepler’s chronicle is bitter sweet and the reader is left aware that our global governing bodies are not protecting reptiles adequately enough. Christy ends the book with a note in which he describes his motivation for writing the book out of wonder. He wonders, as do I, how can someone who is truly passionate about something take that something and exploit it to the point of ruin.

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