The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World

Univ. of Chicago. Sept. 2018. 656p. maps. index. ISBN 9780226459394. $55; ebk. ISBN 9780226459424. SCI
In this image-heavy volume, O'Shea (herpetology, Univ. of Wolverhampton, England; Exploring Nature) discusses the evolution and diversity of snakes before looking at their body structure. The text covers topics such as hunting and reproduction. When particular species are mentioned, O'Shea also lists the page number where readers can learn more about them. The bulk of the work, devoted to different varieties of snakes, will particularly appeal to casual browsers. Each entry discusses related species, how dangerous the animal is, and its conservation status. But the visual graphics are the biggest draw: each page offers two photos (species were photographed to actual size), along with a world map with the snake's habitat highlighted in red. Succinct, conversational language makes the material accessible to general audiences. Labeled black-and-white sketches support the text. O'Shea doesn't go into a lot of depth—he simply can't with 600 types to cover, but readers eager to discover more will enjoy the extensive resources, which include books, field guides from various countries and continents, and herpetological societies and their website links.
VERDICT A worthy purchase for public libraries.

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