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Publisher's Summary

Eating one's own kind is a completely natural behavior in thousands of species, including humans. Throughout history we have engaged in cannibalism for reasons related to famine, burial rites, and medicine. Cannibalism has also been used as a form of terrorism and as the ultimate expression of filial piety.

With unexpected wit and a wealth of knowledge, Bill Schutt takes us on a tour of the field, exploring exciting new avenues of research and investigating questions like why so many fish eat their offspring and some amphibians consume their mothers' skin; why sexual cannibalism is an evolutionary advantage for certain spiders; why, until the end of the 18th century, British royalty regularly ate human body parts; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of Neanderthals. Today the subject of humans consuming one another has been relegated to the realm of horror movies, fiction, and the occasional psychopath. But as climate change progresses and humans see more famine, disease, and overcrowding, biological and cultural constraints may well disappear. These are the very factors that lead to outbreaks of cannibalism - in other species and our own.

©2017 Bill Schutt (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Cannibalism

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I couldn't get through it

I was very excited about this book, but I found myself bored, not only with the prose, but also with the narration. I love science, and non - fiction, but this just did not engage me (and the attempts at humor fell flat).

5 people found this helpful

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Strange Topic, Great Book, Loved It

I loved this book and I hope none of you think ill of me for it.

This book starts by introducing you to cannibalism in animal nature (which happens more often than one may think) before moving on to incidents in human history, up into modern day, and then even addresses the taboo associated with cannibalism and where it may stem from. It's a very fascinating read about a topic that no one wants to talk about. What I love about this book is that Schutt from the very beginning tells the reader that he, in no way, is there to sensationalize those who the public may consider the 'modern day cannibals' of recent history and refuses to give any attention to murders or serial killers and their acts. I can appreciate that since I feel like those people, their lives, and their actions are something that are so sensationalized already and if that's what you're looking for then you could always find that somewhere else. This book is about cannibalism in nature, in survival situations, and in culture. I thought the animal science and information was fascinating and it made me think a lot about where taboos come from and how our abhorrence for cannibalism may differ greatly with another culture.

4 people found this helpful

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Very fun and interesting popsci book

I love biology books about strange and exotic animals and this one hit the mark. Venemous and toxic animals aren't something I was specifically interested in but this book made the topic fascinating.

An added bonus was the authors personality and the way it comes through in the writing. I usually prefer my science books to be a little on the dryer and strictly informative side, but occasionally an author is just really funny and interesting. That was the case with this book.


Fantastic book and totally worth a listen. I only wish there was more of it or more books by the author!

4 people found this helpful

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Pretty Good

Actually Pretty Good-
I learned a lot about Human conditions- Wasn't planning on it- Thought it would be all animals - Solid --

1 person found this helpful

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Zoologists should stick to zoology.

This was a badly organized collection of anecdotes about cannibalism. The author never stuck to a topic long enough to make a point. He started out strong, with interesting stories about cannibalism in the wild. But then, he began waffling his way through history, picking and choosing anecdotes and arguing them poorly. His lack of historical training was evident and was so off base that it undermined his validity even in his specialty. I'm not sure what the point of the book was supposed to be, because he never stuck to an argument and certainly never arrived at a conclusion. The interesting facts in the first quarter of the book did not make up for the lackluster structure, writing, and research of the rest.

Gah, his history was bad.

2 people found this helpful

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Reads like an over-written wiki page.

The book is almost entirely descriptive and includes little-to-no analysis or commentary beyond what is obvious. The author also seems to make contradictory conclusions about cannibalism in general, and the last third of the book deals more with certain diseases and discusses various details about them far more than their actual relationship to cannibalism.

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I learned a lot

Mainly I learned that humans taste like beef and pork. Don't listen to this book while you're eating.

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A behaviour that we just don't talk about.

For many of us, our first introduction to cannibalism is when we saw guppies eating their young in a fish tank. Other than questioning our choice of pets, most of us don't dwell much upon this topic. Maybe we switched to hamsters next (oops).

Fortunately, the author followed through and studied the topic. We typically don't consider cannibalism to be a normal part of behaviour, but apparently, it is far more widespread than I had realized. And the reasons behind cannibalism vary as well.

Far from being morbid, the book is fascinating from squid to mammals. He skillfully avoids the morbid and keeps the book fascinating and informative. Great read.

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Fantastic!

Factual and well researched while maintaining a light and fun narration. I love that the author does not judge nor glorify the subject. I started fascinated the entire time.

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Very PG for the topic

got this book on a Halloween special was partially worried that it was going to be a very gruesome and dark kind of book however I was very entertained by the topic and reassured that the author kept a very PG rating when talking in detail about certain aspects.