Henry Holt Publishers

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The Titles

Spineless Wonders; strange tales from the invertebrate world, by Richard Conniff
An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, by A. V. Evans and C. L. Bellamy

The Reviews

Spineless Wonders; strange tales from the invertebrate world

by Richard Conniff

ISBN = 0-8050-4218-0
Price = HB $25.00 US or $35.00 Ca.
Published = 1996
Review written = 18/Jan/1997
Slimy hermaphrodite lovers, sophisticated and fussy parasites, gentle, hairy and fearsome giants, marching hoards of automatons, all of these and more are on display here in a scientifically accurate smorgasboard of invertebrate entertainment. This is a fine example of nature and science popularizing. Richard Conniff delights in the quirky characters and unusual facts that abound in the wonderful world of invertebrate science and has brought many of them within easy reach in this delightful little book. Spineless Wonders contains a wealth of fascinating information which is pleasantly presented through writing that is lucid and easy to read making it an ideal gift for anyone who likes nature and reading. Though I, as an Englishmen , found myself amused at some of the, what I think of as, 'Americanisms' I thoroughly enjoyed reading of Richard's adventures with invertebrates and their loyal lovers. However I am already fascinated by all animal world and do not suffer from a need for formication, and therefore am not a part of Richard's intended audience which includes all those who love to be horrified by the fact that the rest of the natural world is not necessarily in harmony with our cultured preconceptions. So I recommend that you don't take my word for it but go out and get yourself a copy and read it, or give as a gift to someone you love. If you enjoy this sort of thing you may also want to visit Nightmares of Nature by Richard Matthews


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An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

by A. V. Evans and C. L. Bellamy

ISBN = 0-8050-3791-9
Price = HB $40.00 US or $56.00 Ca.
Published = December 1996
Review written = 18/Jan/1997
A wonderful hymn to the beauty of beetles (the most successful order of life to evolve so far) this coffee-table sized book, contains numerous beautifully presented colour photographs of many of the worlds most stunning beetles. Combined with this is a comprehensive introduction to beetle biology making it both, a fun, and an educational book to read. Chapter titles include, "Where do Beetles Live", "The Beetles -- Yesterday and today" and "Beetles and Humans", which with the inclusion of three appendices; 1.) A Family List, 11.) Major Beetle Collections, and 111.) Coleoptera Societies and Journals (though this is a little under-researched and misses out the 'Balfour-Browne Club' for Water Beetles, and the 'European Association for Coleopterology', also I suspect the Coleopterists Society consider themselves to be international not just American) . Apart from these small ommissions this is an excellent introduction to beetles. Though I must admit that I was surprised to find that the majority of the photos were of set specimens, I think on reflection that this is a good thing, both because it is a gentle introduction to the fact that insect collections exist, are in fact essential to to our ability to study and understand beetles as well as other insects, and also because ultimately it results in the specimens being better displayed. All in all this book will make an excellent gift to any child or adult who has an interest in the natural world.

Highly Recommended.

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