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Book Review: The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Emily Voigt’s first book The Dragon Behind the Glass. The cover says it is “a true story of power, obsession, and the world’s most coveted fish.” I would like to add that it also shows an accurate portrayal of the destruction of our jungles, forests, oceans and waterways in one generation.


The story is scientifically based, memorable, interesting, unique and beautifully written. One of my favorite lines from the book takes place in the Tenasserim Hills. “As the heat of the morning rose, the air took on a creamy, taunt feel, like milk before it boils.” What a vivid description; I can almost feel it. That is just one example of her superb use of the English language.

The book is about the arowana fish. But like so much in life it’s not just about the fish. It is about the people who raise the fish, follow the fish, will kill for the fish and the many tropical locations that take Emily in pursuit of the arowana. At one point in the book she is in Myanmar and wrote, “I was not only disappointed to have missed seeing the batik arowana in its natural habitat but also dismayed to realize that none of the jungles I’d visited qualified as true wilderness anymore in the eyes of experts. Not Borneo. Or the Malay Peninsula. Or even the Tenasserim. All these forests had been too severely damaged within a few short decades.”

As the author goes in pursuit of the almost extinct Asian arowana in the wild, she noticed that “no one spoke of rebounding populations. Rather, the species seemed to have all but vanished from nature.” But what is so intriguing, is there are untold amounts of commercial farms breeding this endangered fish.

I encourage you to read this book. It’s about Emily’s obsessive pursuit of the arowana but along the way she finds “adventure and exploration and understanding, all of which I have gained in abundance.”

Click here to purchase The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt.

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