Insectopedia Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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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 listener on a mesmerizing exploration of history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture.
A New York Times notable book, Insectopedia, shows us how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.
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|Listening Length||16 hours and 8 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||January 31 2023|
Top reviews from Canada
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FYI, this book has nothing to do with Insects. The table of contents should be a hint. If you are thinking of buying this book go to the "look inside" and read the chapter on Jews. There is a quick blurb about Lice, but its pretty much only about the Holocaust. Every chapter has nothing to do with the other. If you are into books that have nothing to do with the subject title of the book or other chapters, then buy this book. But that wasn't the only let down. I was disappointed to read about so many random topics of which Hugh R. is an expert on none. Don't let the all bubbly pleasing newspaper reviews fool you into reading this (did they actually read the book!?). I was annoyed at being deceived, but the contents were even more disappointing.
I didn't know it was going to be bad when I started reading it, I gave it a chance and read the entire thing. I bought the very nice hard copy version, and was sad by the contents. I got it when the book came out, but didn't write a review. I had some other books recommended recently because of this one so I decided to review it.
Very nice hard cover by the way. I have kept all the good parts... the front and back cover, the inside art and all the pages less the words. I'm currently hollowing it out and gluing the pages together to make a secret storage box. Perfect, nobody will ever look in this terrible book.
If you want a recommendation for a book of this style that is AMAZING. Read Sam Kean's - The Disappearing Spoon. It's Chemistry, not Biology...but is an incredible book. I have bought several copies as gifts for others.
Top reviews from other countries
Here ends my criticism. The book is a delight for those interested in bugs and beetles. I hesitate to say 'for entomophiles', as many representatives of this large class of the animal kingdom are not really lovable.
The author is not an entomologist, actually, but an anthropologist. His scope of interest and knowledge is astounding and covers history, art, philosophy, biology, physiology, entomology, epidemiology, sexual fetishes, ... I never saw a broader approach to 'the bug'.
Raffles uses the term 'love' a bit too much, when he talks about researchers and their subjects. I am not convinced that is the right term. It comes up with fighting crickets (the Chinese cricket masters), with honey bees (Frisch and his colleagues), and I am sure with some others. Just a mild doubt of mine.
Who are we talking about? Crickets, cicadas, locusts, grasshoppers, butterflies, flies, fruit flies, cockroaches, bees, wasps, ants, lice, silk worms, praying mantises, bark beetles, clothes moths, stag beetles...
What is Raffles saying about them? Here some of the subjects of the essays, incompletely.
French entomologist Fabre, a great observer and writer, not a theorist, skeptical about Darwinian evolution.
Cricket fighting in Shanghai. Didn't we know it, the Chinese have invented, besides everything else, also entomology. Gamblers that they are, they found a way to bet on the beasts. The surprise lies in the allegation of sympathies between man and beast, and in the claim that these little bundles of protein have individuality.
Himmler, lice and antisemitic world views.
Maria Sibylla Merian and metamorphosis. Joris Hoefnagel and his miniatures.
Karl von Frisch, his bees, the Nazis, and the concept of language. Are bees fascists? Do animals have 'language'? If I have to vote for one essay as best of the bunch, this is it.
Land mines and locusts as joint terrorists in Niger. On the other hand, locusts are also food, not just something to fear. West African ambiguities.
Homosexual games of silkworms and fruit flies. Does everything need to have a function in evolution? Or could it be that they just do it for fun? Do insects have fun, do they do things without purpose?
Talking about fun in homo sapiens. The list of sexual fetishes that humankind is able to enjoy includes some amazing absurdities. Raffles finds and introduces a group of people who get off on squashing beasts with their feet. The crush freaks. They produce crush videos, which are allegedly available on youtube. (I have not verified that.) Somewhat connected to the esoteric world of the foot fetish. Don't wince. We are here to learn. Raffles' main interview partner, a crush filmer, is a vegan and animal rights activist. Animal snuff movies could only be banned via the animal rights angle. Otherwise they were protected by the first amendment. Nice circle.
In some species of flies, males have to bring gifts to the females if they want sex. Talking about anthropomorphism. On the other hand, we learn in an essay about insect vision, eyes, brains, evolution, and neuroscience, that different species live in different worlds. Sometimes it seems to me that this is true even within our species.