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The Dragon Behind the Glass
Cover of The Dragon Behind the Glass
The Dragon Behind the Glass
A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World's Most Coveted Fish
WINNER OF THE 2017 NASW SCIENCE IN SOCIETY JOURNALISM AWARD
A FINALIST FOR THE 2017 PEN/E. O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE
A LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR

"[A] curiously edifying book." The New York Times Book Review

"With the taut suspense of a spy novel, Voigt paints a vivid world of murder, black market deals, and habitat destruction surrounding a fish that's considered, ironically, to be a good-luck charm." Discover

"[An] immensely satisfying story, full of surprises and suspense....Things get weird fast." The Wall Street Journal

An intrepid journalist's quest to find a wild Asian arowana—the world's most expensive aquarium fish—takes her on a global tour in this "engaging tale of obsession and perseverance...and an enthralling look at the intersection of science, commercialism, and conservationism" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
A young man is murdered for his pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. With "the taut suspense of a spy novel" (Discover) The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana, or "dragon fish," is a dramatic example of a modern paradox: the mass-produced endangered species. While hundreds of thousands are bred in captivity, the wild fish as become a near-mythical creature. From the South Bronx to Borneo and beyond, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the arowana to learn its fate in nature.

"A fresh, lively look at an obsessive desire to own a piece of the wild" (Kirkus Reviews), The Dragon Behind the Glass traces our fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science. In an age when freshwater fish now comprise one of the most rapidly vanishing groups of animals, Voigt unearths a surprising truth behind the arowana's rise to fame—one that calls into question how we protect the world's rarest species. "Not since Candace Millard published The River of Doubt has the world of the Amazon, Borneo, Myanmar, and other exotic locations been so colorfully portrayed as it is now in Emily Voigt's The Dragon Behind the Glass...a must-read" (Library Journal, starred review).
WINNER OF THE 2017 NASW SCIENCE IN SOCIETY JOURNALISM AWARD
A FINALIST FOR THE 2017 PEN/E. O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE
A LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR

"[A] curiously edifying book." The New York Times Book Review

"With the taut suspense of a spy novel, Voigt paints a vivid world of murder, black market deals, and habitat destruction surrounding a fish that's considered, ironically, to be a good-luck charm." Discover

"[An] immensely satisfying story, full of surprises and suspense....Things get weird fast." The Wall Street Journal

An intrepid journalist's quest to find a wild Asian arowana—the world's most expensive aquarium fish—takes her on a global tour in this "engaging tale of obsession and perseverance...and an enthralling look at the intersection of science, commercialism, and conservationism" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
A young man is murdered for his pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. With "the taut suspense of a spy novel" (Discover) The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana, or "dragon fish," is a dramatic example of a modern paradox: the mass-produced endangered species. While hundreds of thousands are bred in captivity, the wild fish as become a near-mythical creature. From the South Bronx to Borneo and beyond, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the arowana to learn its fate in nature.

"A fresh, lively look at an obsessive desire to own a piece of the wild" (Kirkus Reviews), The Dragon Behind the Glass traces our fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science. In an age when freshwater fish now comprise one of the most rapidly vanishing groups of animals, Voigt unearths a surprising truth behind the arowana's rise to fame—one that calls into question how we protect the world's rarest species. "Not since Candace Millard published The River of Doubt has the world of the Amazon, Borneo, Myanmar, and other exotic locations been so colorfully portrayed as it is now in Emily Voigt's The Dragon Behind the Glass...a must-read" (Library Journal, starred review).
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About the Author-
  • Emily Voigt is a journalist specializing in science and culture. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, OnEarth Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, and Isotope: A Journal of Literary Science and Nature Writing, as well as on the programs Radiolab and This American Life. The recipient of a Pulitzer Travelling Fellowship, she holds degrees in English Literature and Journalism from Columbia University.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 11, 2016
    The Asian arowana, also known as the dragon fish, ranks among the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, and in this engaging tale of obsession and perseverance, journalist Voigt chronicles her effort to study and understand its appeal. The fish is a symbol of luck and status in Asia, where one albino specimen fetched $150,000 in 2002. Its place on the endangered list makes it illegal to traffic or own in the U.S. Voigt calls it “the most dramatic example of a uniquely modern paradox—the mass-produced endangered species.” Voigt’s travels take her deep into Borneo and Myanmar, where she interacts with colorful, capricious characters such as Heiko Bleher, the “Indiana Jones of the tropical fish industry,” and renowned ichthyologist Tyson Roberts. Through Voigt initially just wants to see the elusive arowana in the wild, she succumbs to the lure of the unknown and thrill of the hunt. Attempting to track down a previously unstudied species, she “began to suspect that relationship with the arowana was not 100 percent healthy.” Voigt’s passion in pursuing her subject is infectious, as is the self-depreciating humor she injects into her enthralling look at the intersection of science, commercialism, and conservationism. Maps & photos. Agent: Abigail Koons, Park Literary Group.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2016

    Not since Candace Millard published The River of Doubt has the world of the Amazon, Borneo, Myanmar, and other exotic locations been so colorfully portrayed as it is here. Reporting how the Asian arowana fish, an endangered species, has become a cultural and commercial phenomenon, journalist Voigt, whose work has been published in the New York Times, OnEarth, and Mother Jones, opens with the shocking murder of a young exotic fish seller who has an eye for selecting extremely valuable arowana. The author traveled to Singapore and other South Asian destinations, visiting fish conventions, exotic fish farms, and remote and dangerous locations trying to find out why the arowana cultivates such passion among exotic fish collectors. She discovered a surprisingly cutthroat business, encountering unusual characters such as Kenny the Fish, the reigning head of the South Asian aquaculture; ichthyologists Heiko Behler and Tyson Roberts; and Ralf Britz. Voigt skillfully intersperses historical and legal aspects of the unusual world of these sea creatures and poses a number of intriguing ethical questions for readers to ponder. Who knew that aquaculture could be so ruthless? VERDICT A compelling must-read that will appeal to those interested in wildlife or conservation.--Rebecca Hill, Zionsville, IN

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Dragon Behind the Glass
The Dragon Behind the Glass
A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World's Most Coveted Fish
Emily Voigt
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