The Reading Room

Men and Snakes: From the Liberty Fund Rare Book Room

Look, we all know how it is. You sit down with the Wall Street Journal, there's a faint haze, a buzzing noise, maybe some flashing lights, and you're suddenly the proud possessor of 5 or 6 new books on topics that you didn't know you were interested in until the WSJ reviewer made them sound so enticing.
I can't promise that Pierre Goodrich's copy of Men and Snakes by Ramona and Desmond Morris was purchased in this kind of trance, but I do know that the WSJ review of the book has been carefully transcribed and pasted into the book. And who could possibly have resisted the review's opening sentences?
More than that, though, the book's stated purpose of detailed "man's relationships with snakes throughout his history, from prehistoric times to the present other single animal form as played such and important or varied role in man's thinking" aligns perfectly with what we know of Goodrich's expansive intellectual curiosity and his appreciation for the historical and cultural sweep of human thought.

The book's entertainingly dated 1960's cover design (and how is it that 1950s book design is so classic, and 1960s is so dated?) is a decided part of its charm.

And the book's many illustration, such as this one, of "Sito the primeval serpent, from the Papyrus of Ani" who appears to be out for a morning stroll in his rubber boots, cannot fail to delight.

Men and Snakes is out of print, but you can find a few good used copies on Amazon, just in case.