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Insectopediaby Hugh Raffles
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Book News Annotation:
Meditating on our relationship to bugs, Raffles set himself the task of writing an A to Z encyclopedia of a very personal sort, in which he records his thoughts on specific points of insect behavior, strange human behavior involving insects, and human's interests in insects' behaviors based on their own strange predilections. Chinese cricket fights, Himmler's grotesque characterization of Jews as lice, queer sex among insects and animals, and Sahelian locust swarms as another fatal threat in war-ravaged Niger, are among the unlikely and fascinating topics. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
For as long as humans have been here, insects have been here. Yet people hardly know them, not even the ones they're closest to: the insects that eat their food, share their beds, and live in their homes. This insectopedia changes that lack of knowledge.
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.
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Science and Mathematics » Biology » Reference
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General
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