Book review: Eat Me: A Natural And Unnatural History Of Cannibalism

Within 10 pages, we’ve gone from Hannibal Lecter to tadpoles, and the pace doesn’t let up as Schutt starts in his own discipline of zoology, showing how ubiquitous cannibalism is among animals.

Bill Schutt

Profile Books, £14.99;

ebook, £8.96

Though it turns out that apparently endearing animals such as mouthbrooding fish are far guiltier here than the notorious black widow (even if that spider’s antipodean cousin, the redback, does get its copulation/consumption habits described in lovingly ghoulish detail).

Then it’s on to the various manifestations in human culture, whether desperate responses to siege and starvation, or deliberate cannibalism in ritual and medicine.

Bar a slight stumble towards the end (the story of linked plagues BSE, kuru and vCJD is certainly relevant, but could have been handled in one chapter rather than three), it’s a fascinating and surprisingly fun read. 

Though laughing at a history of cannibalism can garner you some funny looks on public transport.


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