by Hugh Raffles
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Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles

A New York Times Notable Book

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 been our constant companions. 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, Hugh Raffles weaves together brief vignettes, meditations, and extended essays, taking the reader on a mesmerizing exploration of history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture. Insectopedia shows us how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400096961
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/22/2011
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 579,082
Product dimensions: 7.78(w) x 4.98(h) x 0.96(d)

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 appeared in Best American Essays, Granta, and Orion. Insectopedia is the recipient of a Special Award for Extending Ethnographic Understanding from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. In 2009, he received a Whiting Writers’ Award. He lives in New York City.

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Insectopedia 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Christology More than 1 year ago
From the very first chapter this book is captivating. I was enthralled by the chapter that dealt with the preparation that goes in to preparing a fighting cricket in China. And amazed that I could be drawn into knowing about locusts and their role in the economy of subsharan Africa. Don't miss this book. It's a gem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TomPerry More than 1 year ago
I expected nature writing: intriguing descriptions of field observations while tromping through tall grasses, moist earth, and scummy bogs; details of waving antennae, grasping feet, flapping wings, tenacious pincers, iridescent colors; theories of how this variety of creature has evolved or remained constant throughout humankind's history. There is some of this, but Hugh Raffles is an anthropologist, interested therefore in human cultures, and these 26 essays are primarily about insects and their relationships to humans. He writes about the food-pest paradox of the locust for the people of Niger; the revival of cricket fighting in China as a symbol of preserving and remembering the past; the evolution of collecting, selling, and keeping as pets beetles and other insects in Japan as symbols for the Japanese reverence for nature and as inspiration for insect stores and insectaria as well as manga and anime. He writes about the people -- professional and amateur -- who have peered deeply into insect life because of passion, curiosity, and wonder: Jean Henri Fabre and his studies of wasps; Karl von Frisch and his insights into of the language of bees, such as how scouts inform their hive mates of a new food source; Cornelia Hesse-Honneger and her drawings and paintings of flies malformed from nuclear radiation. Hugh Raffles writes with empathy and humor as well as intelligence and insight. While a few of the essays seem a bit long, there is always something new and interesting to be savored in their succeeding sections. This is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays about life on our planet.
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