A Look Inside Butterfly People
Guest Review by Robert Michael Pyle
Robert Michael Pyle is the author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies .
Butterfly People is the most exciting butterfly book I have read in years: open it anywhere, and the pages spread to reveal stories, spangles, and mysteries as beguiling as any butterfly's pattern. Bill Leach takes us on an extraordinary flight among the collectors, scientist- artists, and other pioneers of butterflies who gave us their names, first studied their lifeways, and otherwise brought them to public attention in America and abroad. Everyone who suffers from an unquenchable love of Lepidoptera will find deep delight and endless fascination in Bill Leach's masterful history of this universal human passion for the most beautiful of insects. Dead and dry in books, the names of people intimately associated with our beloved butterflies—Edwards, Scudder, Strecker, Holland, many more— live and breathe in these enchanted pages. After fifty years of butterfly study, I feel as if I finally know the great and very human lepidopterists I have idolized since boyhood. Nor are they lives of monotonous ecstasy in the Elysian fields—ecstasy there is in plenty, but it is set among scenes of salty struggle, venal ego, mortal drama, and heroic striving that, taken altogether, made for the greatest century of butterfly art and understanding ever achieved. I know no better window into the exciting era of Darwinian encounter with novel life forms than this--to be sure, a thrilling read for all contemporary Butterfly People.