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

Overview


In 1876, the U.S. Congress declared the locust ?the single greatest impediment to the settlement of the country between Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains.? Throughout the nineteenth century, swarms of locusts regularly swept across the American continent, turning noon into dusk, devastating farm communities, and bringing trains to a halt. The outbreaks subsided in the 1890s, and then, suddenly?and mysteriously?the Rocky Mountain locust vanished. A century later, entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood vowed to discover ...
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Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier

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Overview


In 1876, the U.S. Congress declared the locust “the single greatest impediment to the settlement of the country between Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains.” Throughout the nineteenth century, swarms of locusts regularly swept across the American continent, turning noon into dusk, devastating farm communities, and bringing trains to a halt. The outbreaks subsided in the 1890s, and then, suddenly—and mysteriously—the Rocky Mountain locust vanished. A century later, entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood vowed to discover why.Locust is the story of how one insect shaped the history of the western United States. A compelling personal narrative drawing on historical accounts and modern science, this beautifully written book brings to life the cultural, economic, and political forces at work in America in the late nineteenth century, even as it solves one of the greatest extinction mysteries of our time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465041671
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/9/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,273,069
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author


Jeffrey A. Lockwood is Professor of Natural Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wyoming. The author of Grasshopper Dreaming, he has been awarded a Pushcart Prize as well as the 2003 John Burroughs Award.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • 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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