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The Case of the Green Turtle: An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon Hardcover – May 31 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ Pr (May 31 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421405792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421405797
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,257,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


While I recommend this book for readers interested in sea turtle and herpetological history, it will also give readers with no knowledge outside of academia a glimpse into the world of policy and politics in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. -- C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr. Herpetological Review Holds many lessons for those interested in the conservation of marine creatures and of biodiversity in general. Choice The story of efforts to save green sea turtles, including by farming them, illustrates conflicts common to conservation work. Science News A marvelous study of the history of global efforts to conserve the wide-ranging green turtle... Rieser's tour-de-force makes compelling reading because it is packed with intrigue, almost like a spy novel. It is a page turner and a must-read for all those engaged in trying to stem the illicit trade in wildlife products. -- Nigel Smith AAG Review of Books

About the Author

Alison Rieser is the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Professor of ocean policy in the Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A well-done history of the exploitation and conservation of the green sea turtle April 16 2013
By ARH - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
OK, I'm a sucker for pretty much anything that has to do with the ocean. With that being said, I jumped at the chance to give this book a read.

To begin with, this is NOT a book that describes the natural history or biology of the green sea turtle. What it IS, is an account of the exploitation and conservation history of this iconic species, including policy proposals, implications, legal battles, and national and international players, including nations around the world where sea turtles live, and where their products were consumed (e.g., turtle soup, wax, tortoise shell-products, leather, etc.).

Rieser, a professor of marine policy at the University of Hawaii, is well-trained and well placed to write this history. Her credentials and experience greatly increase the value of her book.

The story of the green sea turtle and almost all sea turtle species has a happier ending (at least so far) than that of just about any other exploited marine resource. If the topic of marine conservation interests you, you might consider reading The Unnatural History of the Sea for more examples of humanity's exploitation of the sea.

Anyway, the general pattern of human exploitation of wild populations of commercially marketable marine species (whales to seaweeds) goes something like this:
1) Discover a resource
2) Create a new market or exploit an existing market for/with the resource
3) Develop luxury status for resource if possible to drive prices up
4) Continue to exploit the resource as quickly and with the largest possible harvest possible so you get as much of the resource as possible before it falls below levels that can be harvested profitably
5) Having decimated the resource...move on and start exploiting a similar resource or exploit the same resource, but in a different location
6) Repeat.

Rieser tells the story of the exploitation history of the green sea turtle, a species with a world-wide tropical and subtropical distribution. It was exploited for its meat and its eggs. You will be amazed at how many eggs have been harvested annually when you read the book. You will also be amazed at how oblivious we (humans) were to the impacts our hunting of adult turtles and collecting eggs their eggs, together with coastal development and destruction of nesting beaches, were having on the populations of sea turtles worldwide.

I have to admit that I found the first chapter or two a little dry, but once I got rolling, I really enjoyed the book. Rieser's writing does not get in the way of the story being told. She also does not editorialize or act the pundit as the story unfolds. She simply lets the story and related events unfold and tell the story on their own.

This is not a bleeding-heart tree-hugger book. It is, instead, a meaningful account of the exploitation, then overexploitation, and then conservation efforts made to protect the green sea turtle.

5 stars, even though it has a slow start. I'll be adding this to the book list I provide to my marine biology students.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A must read for anyone interested in the Conservation movement Oct. 18 2012
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm a chronologist - I like to know the history of everything. I therefore loved this book - the case of the Green Turtle. The author starts by pointing out that scientists today argue about whether or not the sea turtle is actually endangered. Some say it is, some say it isn't. Those are the folks who want turtle soup on the menu and various items made from the turtle's shell. (For myself, I wouldn't eat turtle soup if you paid me and plastic glasses are just as good as tortoise shell glasses any day of the week. There's no reason for anyone to kill sea turtles these days! But that's a rant for a conservation website rather than a book review.)

After the introduction, the author then goes on to chronicle the history of the conservation movement - specifically with regard to the green turtle.

The book is well-written, and even-handed, giving both sides of the story - from conservations to those who wish to make their living exploiting what they believe to be an exploitable resource, put on this planet by god just for that purpose - and if the turtle is driven extinct in the process, well, that's okay, they'll just find something else to exploit. (Sorry, I'm ranting again).

So both sides of the conservation and endangered species act debate will find this book of interest.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Academic overview of green turtle preservation politics Oct. 14 2012
By M. Hyman - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, it is a fascinating story tracing the conservation politics employed to try to preserve the green turtle. The book traces early farming and exploitation of the turtles, as well as the generation of scientists and conservationists who attempted to understand the life cycles of the turtles, their precipitous decline, and what it would take to preserve the species. It shows the ongoing tension between industry and conservation, and the complexity of international politics and inertia. And, of course, while the conservationists and politicians talked and debated, the turtles continued to be killed at alarmingly destructive rates. The book provides in interesting view of how hard it is to make conservation decisions, as well as how hard it is to understand animal life, with its incredibly complex life cycles and webs. It is filled with a depth of facts and information. If you are looking for a scholarly examination of these issues, the book is a good fit. If, on the other hand, you want more of a lay persons view, you may find the book hard to approach -- it isn't at all designed to be popular science. Given that I am outside of the field and was looking to the book for more human interest, it was a tough book to finish. I wanted very much to understand what happened, but didn't want to go through all of the details to get there. As such, it is much more focused for those in the field, or perhaps graduate students, than the general public. As a result, my views are mixed. It is in depth and covers and important topic, but it wasn't as approachable as I had hoped. I don't look at this as a fault of the book, but more a difference between what i was looking for and what it provided.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Insights about humanity's relationship with a natural world in peril Sept. 26 2012
By Malvin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"The Case of the Green Turtle" by Alison Rieser is an engrossing history of the green turtle's odyssey from the abundant and exploited to the rare and protected. The author painstakingly reconstructs events in the pivotal mid-twentieth century when humanity struggled to find solutions to the turtle's plight before it became too late. Expertly written and well-illustrated with photos, this exceedingly well-researched and fascinating book will appeal to everyone interested in environmental history and environmental politics.

Ms. Rieser is a professor of ocean policy who is most interested in getting the story right. We learn about the factors that drove turtle populations towards extinction over the course of many decades of commercial exploitation, consumerism, drift nets and the loss of the turtle's native habitat. We meet the people who cared about the turtles enough to study them and who sought to develop strategies to save them. As legislation lagged behind the reality of the turtle's rapidly changing status from threatened to endangered, the author reconstructs the heated debate that ensued between mariculturists and conservationists as to determine the most appropriate response to the turtle's decline.

Full of insights about humanity's relationship with a natural world in peril, I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Way to save the green turtle! Sept. 21 2012
By Akcloudwoman - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a very well written book about the green turtle. The author presents lots of information about the green turtle and its history. She tells about the history of green turtles and how they were used for food and amusement. Who knew green turtle soup was a delicacy? And turtle riding was popular in the 1950's? Anyone interested in ecology and how humans have influenced the history of a species in the natural world will enjoy this book. It is not an easy read because of the reading level, but it is well worth it.