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Insectopediaby Hugh Raffles
Synopses & Reviews
Beautifully lyrical. –The Boston Globe
Unique beyond imagination. Bizarre. Endlessly interesting, a book that cannot be categorized. This book insists you learn its unexpected facts because you cannot put it down…You will never forget having read this book. You will never forget where you put it either, since you have dog-eared it for displays of another astounding fact when your friends come to visit. –Decatur Daily
As Raffles shows our nearby neighbors to be at once dangerous and beautiful, common and incomprehensible, he refracts a world that is newly fascinating. –Audubonmagazine.com
Compulsively readable, equal parts anthropology, travel, philosophy, history and science…Insectopedia will stir your imagination. –valeaston.com, Plant Talk
As inventive and wide ranging and full of astonishing surprises as the vast insect world itself. Raffles takes us on a delirious journey, zooming in and out from the microscopic to the global, from the titillating to the profound, from Niger to China, from one square mile above Louisiana to the recesses of his own mind.
—The New York Times, Science Times
Sure to amuse, educate, raise our hackles, unveil our guilt, and leave us to ponder just who we think we are anyway. For inquisitive adults seeking a mind trip outside the box.
—Library Journal, starred review
“Raffles' eclectic examination of our diverse reactions to bugs, ranging from scholarly and aesthetic awe to revulsion or phobia, is an enthralling hodgepodge of historical fact, anthropological observation, and scientific insight.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In any competition for the strangest delights of this publishing year, nothing is likely to beat this A to Z investigation of bug-world . . . . It’s a revelation of the world of our fellow creatures . . . by a writer whose style is equal to his huge and strange task.
Sings with scholarship, deft writing, and an authentic fascination with the six-legged creatures that have so long roamed the Earth.
Hugh Raffles's work stands alone for what it says both about its subject and about us. After reading Insectopedia, it's hard to look at a cricket, a bumblebee, and a human being the same way ever again. I adored the book.
—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish
Art, science, beetles, beauty, miracles, manias, and more—the world itself, dazzling, gleams freshly through Raffles' insect-eyed lens. Every page delighted me.
—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever (National Book Award winner) and The Voyage of the Narwhal
Arbitrariness is part of this book’s extremely peculiar charm. Insectopedia qualifies as food for thought…this is a collection of imaginative forays into what, for most readers, will be terra incognita. —The New York Times, daily review
As inventive and wide ranging and full of astonishing surprises as the vast insect world itself. –The Mercury News
Provocative…Insectopedia opens up a can of worms and it’s doubtful they can be herded back
A stunningly original exploration of the ties that bind us to the beautiful, ancient, astoundingly accomplished, largely unknown, and unfathomably different species with whom we share the world.
For as long as humans have existed, insects have existed, too. Wherever we’ve traveled, they’ve traveled, too. Yet we hardly know them, not even the ones we’re closest to: those that eat our food, share our beds, and live in our homes.
Organizing his book alphabetically with one entry for each letter, weaving together brief vignettes, meditations, and extended essays, Hugh Raffles embarks on a mesmerizing exploration of history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture to show us how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.
Raffles offers us a glimpse into the high-stakes world of Chinese cricket fighting, the deceptive courtship rites of the dance fly, the intriguing possibilities of queer insect sex, the vital and vicious role locusts play in the famines of west Africa, how beetles deformed by Chernobyl inspired art, and how our desire and disgust for insects has prompted our own aberrant behavior.
Deftly fusing the literary and the scientific, Hugh Raffles has given us an essential book of reference that is also a fascination of the highest order.
Deftly combining the anecdotal and the scientific, Raffles offers a stunningly original exploration of the beautiful, ancient, successful, astoundingly accomplished, largely unknown, and unfathomably different insect species with which we share this world.
About the Author
\HUGH RAFFLES teaches anthropology at The New School. He is the author of In Amazonia: A Natural History, which received the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing. His essays have been published in Best American Essays, Granta, and Orion. He received a Whiting Writers’ Award in 2009. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
In the beginning-- — Air — Beauty — Chernobyl — Death — Evolution — Fever/dream — Generosity (the happy times) — Heads and how to use them — The ineffable — Jews — Kafka — Language — My nightmares — Nepal — On January 8, 2008, Abdou Mahamane was driving through Niamey-- — Il Parco delle Cascine on Ascension Sunday — The quality of queerness is not strange enough — The deepest of reveries — Sex — Temptation — The unseen — Vision — The sound of global warming — Ex libris, exempla — Yearnings — Zen and the art of Zzz's.
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History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology