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Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2004

    A history/natural history masterpiece

    Although I've never met Jeff Lockwood, through my career I've enjoyed reading his research papers and related publications(for instance, he's one of the few people who have written seriously about the moral standing of insects). I've been looking forward to reading this book, because a snowstorm prevented my hearing Lockwood give a symposium on Rocky Mt. locust some years ago at an Entomological Society of America Meeting. It was worth the wait. While the elimination of the bison from the Great Plains is common knowledge, the extinction of the Rocky Mt. locust, the other great herbivore of the North American plains, has received little attention. In Locust, Jeff Lockwood recounts his efforts in solving the mystery at how an insect that formed the largest insect swarms ever recorded (more than a trillion individuals in a single swarm!)vanished only a few decades later. But this book is much, much more than a story of one scietist's research. Lockwood explores the historical, ecological, scientific, and even religious dimensions of the Rocky Mt. locust. Along the way, we learn about the exploitation of the west, involvement of the federal government in scientific research, and details of many quirky entomologists (no, we aren't all quirky). Lockwood writes with humor and with a wonderful capacity for capturing the essence of a topic in a single, memorable sentence. I don't usually expect to become emotionally engaged in a natural history book, but it's no exaggeration to say that the last paragraph of the book gave me goosebumps.

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