Author Lulu Miller takes you on a fascinating journey that is mainly themed around taxonomist David Starr Jordan, who is credited with discovering nearly 1/5 of the fish known to man during his time. But, it’s much more than that and the book chases mysteries, scandals, and shines light on evolving views in the scientific community that will make you more than a little uncomfortable at times.

Jordan has a deep religious perspective and this guides him on his quest to put meaning into his prolific discoveries. Miller examines this path that Jordan puts himself on, what it means, and investigates carefully the historical perspectives of such thought. The story leads to Stanford University in California and other key figures of the time associated with Jordan.

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Why Fish Don't Exist book cover

Between the Lines

The title of the book, by the way, is not click bait. Allow me to tempt you into reading the book as this statement is central to much of the storyline around scientist Jordan. As Miller undertakes an examination of Jordan and his accomplishments and struggles, the book also steers readers around her own struggles and how her investigation of Jordan and this topic wraps into her own life. The book, in these times, becomes a candid view of some of her most private moments in her own life.

This was an interesting book to read because it’s part investigative journalism, part scientific writing, part biography of Jordan, and then also a private look into Lulu’s own life as it’s transforming. She puts together an honest and compelling overall package of one area of science and a man that contributed so much and yet was haunted in many ways. Ultimately, you will judge for yourself the results of his work and decide if fish exist.