Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Plague of Frogs: The Horrifying True Story

Author: William Sounder

First line: Consider the frog.

Why you should read this book: In the summer of 1995, when a group of Minnesota schoolchildren found vast numbers of deformed frogs in a local pond, America found itself mired in a debate that soon comprised local, state, and federal bodies, in which amateurs and professionals in different fields argued over the causes of what became an epidemic of frogs with missing, extra, twisted, and unexplainable limbs. Pesticide runoff from common farming practices, increased ultraviolet exposure due to atmospheric degradation, and natural parasitic infection are all suggested causes hypothesized, argued over, and tested by myriad scientists intent on solving the immediate question of deformed frogs as well as the larger question of global amphibian decline and environmental change. The books is a scientific mystery, unearthing clues while it acknowledges the effects of bureaucratic intervention, scientific skepticism, and professional rivalries in what could be one of the most important environmental investigations of our time.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It's horrifying, but it's not horror. You'll have to go elsewhere for accounts of giant mutant anthropophagic frogs. As for this book, its only flaw is a lack of index.

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