Friday, May 13, 2011

Book: Wicked Bugs

Amy Stewart has been doing a lot of promotion for “Wicked Bugs” on NPR lately. A devoted listener, I was hooked during the interview and when I got home called up Amazon and picked it up, the mix of science and human interest being right up my alley.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Science

Official Description :
Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects
Amy Stewart
ISBN: 978-1-56512-960-3

“In this captivating look at the sinister side of the natural world, Amy Stewart uncovers more than one hundred of our worst insect enemies – creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet to millipedes that stop traffic, from “bookworms” that devour libraries to Japanese beetles that munch on our roses, Wicked Bugs tells the stories of bugs gone wild.

Here is a captivating mixture of history, science, murder and intrigue that beings – but doesn’t end – in our own backyards.”

The Review
The author starts out by stating she’s not an entomologist, just a “writer fascinated by the natural world” and I think the book is enhanced for it. She does a good job explaining how the creatures do what they do without it feeling too technical or dumbed down, and the stories she shares about their interactions with humans are varied too, from the gross to the humorous.

There are no photographs here; instead there are some lovely etchings/sketches of some of the insects. For the squeamish, this is likely a plus. I’m torn. I appreciate the art, but I think that insects can beautiful and some have coloration/markings that have to be seen to be believed, so I’d personally preferred photographs. Your mileage may vary.

I think at the end of the day this is a good book to thumb through – read the bits that catch your eye and skim through others. Some sections become laundry lists of insects with paragraphs that just describe how they work without the human factor, and I think those parts do drag some.

I’d recommend checking out the preview pages up on Amazon, the book stays largely in the same vein throughout, so if you that you’ll definitely enjoy the book.

My grade: B

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