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The Secret Life of Lobsters

How Fishermen and Scientists Are Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean

by Trevor Corson

"Hot stuff!"

—CBS Sunday Morning

"The writing is vivid."

—USA Today

"Fascinating."

—The Washington Post

"This book will make you seem a genius."

—Carl Safina

A Best Nature Book of the Year

USA TodayDiscover magazine

A Best Book of the Year

Time Out New York

Discover Great New Writers Selection

—Barnes & Noble

World-wide popular-science bestseller

—Amazon

About the Book

Consider the humble lobster: an unsightly creature from the sea that tastes awfully good with melted butter. But it turns out that this aesthetically-challenged crustacean is so much more—a charming lover, a belligerent fighter, and a snoopy socializer with a nose that lets it track prey and paramour alike with the skill of a bloodhound. And, perhaps most important, these astonishing animals are a sustainable resource that has provided a livelihood for generations of Maine fisherman. In his entertaining and edifying book, Trevor Corson takes us on a lively sea-sprayed voyage inside a world where fishermen and scientists have joined forces to uncover the mysteries—and preserve the future—of these clawed predators.

Corson worked for two years as a sternman aboard a lobster boat out of Little Cranberry Island, Maine. From the slippery deck of the F/V Double Trouble, he witnessed firsthand the lives and work of a crusty band of lifelong lobstermen and a new breed of ecologists whose unconventional methods include underwater vacuum cleaners, robots, lasers, scent electrodes—and superglue. Combing science, history, and folk wisdom, he explores the confounding reasons behind the fact that Maine's lobster catch has tripled over the past fifteen years despite the general decimation of New England waters by overfishing. Part popular science, part social history, The Secret Life of Lobsters provides a glimpse into the quirkiness of scientific endeavors and fosters an awareness of how our oceans can be harvested sustainably. It also offers an intimate portrait of an island lobstering community bound by tradition but confronting change.

The Secret Life of Lobsters began as a centerpiece article in The Atlantic Monthly that was included in The Best American Science Writing edited by Oliver Sacks. The Secret Life of Lobsters is published by HarperCollins.

"Opens a portal into a fascinating underwater world. ... One source—comprehensive—Lobster 101!"

—Linda Greenlaw, bestselling author of The Lobster Chronicles and The Hungry Ocean


"It is almost impossible to stop reading until one runs out of pages. ... I can highly recommend this book as one of the best things you can enjoy without melted butter."

—Natural History magazine


"What a great book! This is a charming, funny, warm, and informative look at Maine lobsters. ... Treat yourself to this one—you won't be sorry."

—Kingston Observer

"For hot stuff, you can pick up the latest Harlequin Romance, all fiction. Or you can read The Secret Life of Lobsters—all fact!"

—CBS Sunday Morning


"A fascinating story, blending science, politics and history ... the writing is vivid."

—USA Today


"Corson knows the lobster's secrets, and he'll tell. ... The chapters are knitted together with rich stories about the people who catch lobsters, their families, the dangers they face."

—The New York Times


"Lobster is served three ways in this fascinating book: by fisherman, scientist and the crustaceans themselves. ... Corson, who worked aboard commercial lobster boats for two years, weaves together these three worlds. The human worlds are surely interesting; but they can't top the lobster life on the ocean floor."

—The Washington Post


"Corson's sense of humor and ability to breathe a human sensibility into his crustacean characters enliven even the most esoteric details of how lobsters hunt, hide, fight, and mate in their natural habitat."

—The Atlantic


"In passages befitting a beach scene in a steamy romance novel, Corson writes about the rough-and-tumble affair [of lobster mating]. ... Who would have thought lobsters were such passionate lovers?"

—Associated Press


"[In] the tradition of John McPhee ... [Corson] seamlessly interweaves tales of lobster biology and ecology ... alternating these with sketches of lobstermen and scientists whose livelihoods and careers depend on understanding Homarus americanus."

—Science magazine


"The Secret Life of Lobsters has more sex and violence in it that most episodes of True Blood, and has the added benefit of being slightly less embarrassing to trot out in conversation."

—Sports Blog Nation


"The Secret Life of Lobsters is so full of fun and fascination that you'll be almost embarrassed to think that for all these years all you ever knew about lobsters was how they taste. Lobsters do so many remarkable things that you just might conclude that the differences between people and lobsters are only skin deep. Prepare to awe your friends as you regale them with details from the depths—this book will make you seem a genius at your next summer lawn party."

—Carl Safina, author of The View from Lazy Point and Song for the Blue Ocean


"I believe that cooking is not only a craft but also a sacred art. When we choose to kill and cook a lobster, it can be a way of paying homage to the animal's life. In The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson teaches us that the lobster has its own mysterious habits, sensitivity, and sensibilities, and that it deserves our respect when we bring it to our table."

—Eric Ripert, executive chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin; author of A Return to Cooking and Le Bernardin Cookbook: Four-Star Simplicity

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