I know… I am awful at keeping Caudatart up to date. I live for the salamanders, and they keep me away from the computer. I hope you can forgive me.
That being said…
During my recent travels, I was able to read a wonderful piece of non-fiction: The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers, by Bryan Christy.
I actually listened to the audiobook. The narration was excellent, I recommend it.
For many people, this book may be eye-opening. It may reveal to you how easily people become involved in trafficking of reptiles, and then how easily that becomes linked to more intense crimes. It may be shocking how little protection is provided for rare and endangered animals and, frankly, just how easy it is to smuggle them around the world. If you are not aware of these things, it will be a thrilling read that is more like a riveting crime drama than a non-fiction.
For me, and probably for many of you, none of what I just mentioned above comes as a surprise. As someone in the business of protecting rare and endangered animals, I am too familiar with how animal trafficking works. It’s a matter of understanding the “other side” of things. Frankly, many people who started out in the conservation business end up in the smuggling business, due to circumstances and personal choices. The point is… it is a world that is very close to home.
Bottom line, my understanding of how these operations work did not change the entertainment value of this book, and if you are also familiar with these concepts, do not think it will be a bore. The book is not written just for the shock value, or to surprise those who had no idea how over the top reptile smuggling can be. While it will certainly appeal to that audience, it will also be a pleasure for the audience who is familiar to the subject.
The book tells the story of the rise and fall of an empire in the reptile smuggling business over a few generations. Through telling both sides of the story, it pulls you into the drama. The smugglers are ingenious, loyal to family, and frequently very likable. The USFWS agents are the driven, passionate types, working at a goal that is viewed as worthless by most others. It is easy to empathize on both accounts. It is hard to believe, at many points, this is a non-fiction, due to the excitement, intrigue, and character of the story.
As a person with a passion for reptiles, I found myself intensely absorbed in the tale.
If you enjoy any or all of the following: crime dramas, reptiles, justice, wildlife, conservation, good books…. I recommend reading The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest reptile Smugglers
This Lizard King
Not this Lizard King.