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The Dragon Behind the Glass

A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World's Most Coveted Fish
Narrated by: Xe Sands
Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A young man is murdered for his prized pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. Delving into an outlandish realm of obsession, paranoia, and criminality, The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other: a powerful predator dating to the age of the dinosaurs. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana is bred on high-security farms in Southeast Asia and sold by the hundreds of thousands each year. In the United States, however, it's protected by the Endangered Species Act and illegal to bring into the country - though it remains the object of a thriving black market. From the South Bronx to Singapore, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the fish, ultimately embarking on a years-long quest to find the arowana in the wild. With a captivating blend of personal reporting, history, and science, The Dragon Behind the Glass traces our modern fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when intrepid naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science, discovering new and wondrous species in jungles all over the world.

©2016 Emily Voigt (P)2016 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A "must read" for all fish professionals.

There is much in this book for almost anyone interested in fishes and their biology. Voight offers thoughtful perspectives on the aquarium hobby, it's history, psychology, the industry that supports it, and the potential impact of fish collecting on natural populations. She blends these with absorbing travel adventure narratives, personal profiles and a reasonably nuanced discussion of the utility and impact of "listing" endangered species. I am an ichthyologist and have been an aquarist for almost all of my 71 years but this book made me think about a lot of what I and my colleagues do in a different light

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Exciting book, well executed by the reader

Exciting but sad, a reminder that our resources are finite and require our care and conservation

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Gripping

As an semi professional aquarist this gripped me. I devoured in about 2 two days of frantic reading. It brought to light some of the darker and easily ignored sides of the aquarium trade (my dearest passion) and made me ask some really tough questions about my life. Anyone who is has an aquarium should give this a listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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As good as it gets for this genre

If you have any fondness at all for quirky natural history accounts, this is worth five credits. It is well paced and the narration is just about perfect. I'm comparing this in my mind to The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and it's holding its own...I look forward to more from Emily Voigt. And I'm barely exaggerating to say I'd listen to Xe Sands read drugs warning all afternoon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I didn't think I could be addicted to fish tales

This books hits you fast and heated. You'll be at the edge of your seat waiting to get ur headphone or in ur car until it's over and you'll be all wth this is a book about fish.... but is it?? Soo many layers... I'm into it fast paced and just great. The narrator is a bit eh but the story is soo good it doesn't matter. Do not sleep on this one I literally think about this stupid fish all the time now.... xoxo love it thou...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This is a great book.

It is a first hand view of the aquarium world and what remains of our planet’s fresh water fish.

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Enlightening and facinating

I was a tropical fish enthusiast years ago and was captivated by the story synopsis. I was not disappointed.
Narrator Xe Sands has to be one of the best I’ve listened to. Her voice is lyrical in a way that draws you further in to the story.
A truly fascinating account of the author’s years long sojourn to find the wild Asian arowana or "dragon fish" which happens to be the world's most expensive aquarium fish.
There was/is much to be learned from story, it’s a book I will listen to again.

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Excellent storytelling, good content.

I've wanted to read this book since it first came out. Failing to do that I decided Audible was the way to go. Coming from a background of working at a local fish store in my teen years I appreciated every aspect of this book. The mystique of the Arowana was around even then (mid-90's). I loved finding out the background, history, and modern status of such an amazing fish.

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Arowana, How I Know Thee

This audiobook appealed to the fish lover in me. A couple of years ago I bought a bunch of arowanas until they started getting too big for the tank. This book may just be what I need to bring a couple of them back to admire every morning.

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Beginning and end redeeming qualities

My biggest takeaways occurred at the beginning with details about the aquarist and the epilogue where she wraps up her thoughts on protecting species and keeping fish as pets. Her travels were interesting but anticlimactic, so is real life though.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-11-19

I wish their were more audio books like this one

this story about adventure, obsession and the Aquatics trade is amazing. I hope there is a sequel.

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  • Cara Lawrence
  • 07-10-18

An extraordinary trek to see Arowana in the wild

I actually bought this book because I love the narrator, Xe Sands, she has a soft, lovely voice & I could happily listen to her reading through the phone book. Following a narrator though often leads you to books you would probably never come across or read. Thankfully, this book is brilliant.

I would not call myself a fish person, I have a fat goldfish who gorks at me when I sit on my computer, this however, is where my fish knowledge ends.

This book is excellent even if you aren't into fish, it covers so much more than fish, from International Smuggling to forays into deep jungle, swimming with Piranas & the difficulties of moving around Mayanmar when you are not wanted. From grandiose fish competitions, & people buying a single fish for the same amount of most people's mortgages, did I mention meeting head hunter?

My 10yr old son listened to this book with me & commented that being an Ichthyologist is possibly more dangerous than studying Rhinoceros, on that note, he thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you are looking for a great book filled with not only interesting facts, but tales of the tyrants who catch these fish in the wild & then sell the poor creatures for exorbitant prices & smuggle the them all over the world, stories about the Amazon a beautiful but diminishing wonder of the world.

Sometimes funny, always interesting & at parts of the book the author (Emily Voight ) frustration is palpable as planning journeys into deep jungle is always an interesting challenge. We all know the saying, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

This factual & crazy adventure is made even more awesome by the dulcet, soft & melodic voive of Xe Sands. If you are an avid fish keeper, then stop wasting time reading my review, just crack on & buy the book. If like me, you are clueless & curious, have a listen, you will love this book.