Listen to Return of the Gar featuring Return of the Gar author
Mark Spitzer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services researcher Lindsey Lewis,
and University of Central Arkansas biologist Reid Adams discuss the
often misunderstood alligator gar.
The alligator gar belongs to a family of fish that has remained
fundamentally unchanged since the Cretaceous, over 100 million years
ago. Its intimidating size and plethora of teeth have made it demonized
throughout its range in North America, resulting in needless killing.
Massive oil spills in its breeding range have not helped its population
either. Interspersing science, folklore, history, and action-packed
fishing narratives, Spitzer’s empathy for and fascination with this
air-breathing, armored fish provides for an entertaining odyssey that
examines management efforts to preserve and propagate the alligator gar
in the United States.
Spitzer also travels to Central America, Thailand, and Mexico to assess
the global gar situation. He reflects on what is and isn’t working in
compromised environments, then makes a case for conservation based on
personal experience and a love for wildness for its own sake. This
colorful portrait of the alligator gar can serve as a metaphor and
measurement for the future of our biodiversity during a time of
“In Return of the Gar Mark Spitzer is fighting the good fight,
teaching us about a fish that’s in trouble and explaining to us why we
should care—one quirky story at a time.” —Zeb Hogan, host of National
Geographic’s Monster Fish series
“A timely work about an important subject.” —Jeremy Wade, host of
Animal Planet’s River Monsters TV show
“In the tradition of activists who speak up for those without a voice,
Spitzer is on a crusade to save the gar. He’s also going to have some
fun while doing so… . a pleasure to read.” —Susan Cohen, co-editor
Shorewords: A Collection of American Women’s Coastal
“Highly readable, entertaining and engaging… excellent attention to
detail.” —Solomon R. David, research associate, Shedd
About the Author
MARK SPITZER has caught and studied gar all over the planet, leading
to an appearance on Animal Planet’s River Monsters. He also consulted
for National Geographic’s Monster Fish episode on the alligator gar.
The author of 21 books, including fiction, poetry, translations, and
nonfiction, Spitzer is an associate professor of creative writing at the
University of Central Arkansas and the editor of Toad Suck Review. He
lives in Conway, Arkansas.