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THE DRAGON BEHIND THE GLASS BY EMILY VOIGT

PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER
REVIEW BY HAYLEY ROHEAD

Emily Voigt has produced a condensed chronical of her years researching, and then searching for, the coveted Dragon Fish, the Arowana. She gives a highly detailed account of her research; of the fish farmers, traders, collectors, policy makers, and ichthyologists (fish scientists) she spoke to, stayed with, learned from and at times felt disappointment with.

Voigt originally set off to learn about why the Dragon Fish was so coveted, and understand what was the appeal behind a fish with such a hefty price tag. On top of the fascinating account of the research into the trade of aquarium fish, Voigt also told a story of obsession – the obsession of collectors, of people from specific cultures, and of explorers. Funnily enough, she really accounted for her own obsession in the end, with the dragon fish.

On top of what I felt to be the main theme of the book, I noted one other theme below the surface that struck me. There is a documented move away from observational based science, to a more measured science. Observing the species in its habitat versus examining its DNA. For me personally, it made me reflect about changes in my own field of science and what this means for us all moving forward.

Voigt’s writing is smooth and informative, without going into too much detail. She has created a book that is rich in facts but also comic at times. This story is certainly an eye opener for anyone who keeps fish, has a pet or otherwise. I would also recommend this book to those interested in the trade of any creature, not just fish. Regardless of which side you are on – conservationist, breeder, or collector – Voigt has put forward some interesting ideas surrounding the protection of species and their associated outcome. This book is certainly worth a read if you are that way orientated at all, coming from an unbiased perspective.

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.