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Insect Lives: Stories of Mystery and Romance from a Hidden World Hardcover – October 4, 1999

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471282778 ISBN-10: 0471282774 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The editors of this anthology, by their own admission, have gathered here an eclectic assortment of pieces about insects and how we humans have perceived them through the ages. Hoyt is a writer whose previous works include a book about ants, The Earth Dwellers; Schultz is an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution. The selections for this volume come from Aristotle, Charles Darwin, William Wordsworth, the Bible, contemporary entomologists such as Edward O. Wilson, and dozens of other sources. The editors have arranged the material into ten chapters on themes dealing with insects both praised and reviled, insect societies, mating, metamorphosis, behavior, and more. The book is well suited for browsing, with many illustrations, relatively short entries, and a wide variety of topics and writing styles. Introductions precede each selection and add to the overall enjoyment of the book. Insect Lives simultaneously informs and entertains; recommended for popular natural history collections.AWilliam H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

"Alien creatures have overrun planet Earth. They wear their skeletons on the outside, bite sideways, smell with antennae, taste with their feet, and breathe through holes in the sides of their bodies. . . . They are the insects." From the human viewpoint, "insects are aliens, denizens of another world, shadow opposites with whom we share planet Earth."

Starting from that perspective, Hoyt (a Scottish science writer) and Schultz (an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution) had an inspiration: put together a book of writings on these intriguing and ubiquitous aliens, with an emphasis on good writing. The result is mighty good reading, abetted by many rewarding illustrations. The 76 entries include not only essays by scientists, as one would expect, but also poems by the likes of Burns and Wordsworth, passages from the Bible and even excerpts from the 1954 screenplay for Them!, one of the first insect movie thrillers. Taken altogether, the collection delivers what Hoyt and Schultz promise in their introduction-- "a sweeping tour of the human fascination with insects."


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc; 1st edition (October 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471282774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471282778
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an author of books on wildlife and science for adults and kids; I like to tell a story that hasn't been told using my own style of narrative nonfiction. I am also a researcher and lecturer (working in Japan, Russia and many other countries). I like exploring new frontiers, trying new things...I have been very fortunate to work with various dolphin and whale species in many countries, as well as ants in the tropical rain forest.

My first book, Orca: The Whale Called Killer, tells the story of seven summers I spent living among three big "families" or pods of killer whales (orcas) off northern Vancouver Island, Canada.

My newest books are the all new singing and dancing Creatures of the Deep (2nd edition, 2x orig length, 135 all new photos) (Oct. 2014) and Weird Sea Creatures (March 2013) for age 12 to adult featuring state-of-the-art photographs of the latest amazing deep sea animals, many of them only discovered in the past couple years and some still un-named.

My previous books include: Seasons of the Whale, recently published in an updated ebook edition. In this book I follow several known humpback, right and blue whales through a momentous year in their lives -- a true story of the year that the North Atlantic Ocean began to "talk back" to those who cared about it as well as to those who didn't.

In The Earth Dwellers, I get down to a few centimeters off the ground and trace several years in the lives of a colony of leafcutter ants and the scientists who study them in Costa Rica. In alternative chapters, I weave the story of the ants and the story of the scientists -- two well known entomologists (insect scientists), EO Wilson from Harvard and Bill Brown from Cornell who trade arguments, jokes and banter in their pursuit of the big find.

I loved researching and writing Creatures of the Deep, with its literary, historical, mythical and actual journeys to the bottom of the sea as well as along the world's longest mountain range (underwater) and starting from the tiniest organisms up the long food chain to the top predators. It's a story of a dark, high pressure, unexplored world and bizarre, little known creatures that communicate by touch, flashing lights and who knows what else.

These books are for adults but variously enjoyed by young adults and older kids. I have also written four other books just for kids.

As a working scientist and conservationist, I also write scientific papers, reports and books such as Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. A world handbook for cetacean habitat conservation and planning (Taylor & Francis, London & New York, 2011). I am a Research Fellow with WDC -- Whale and Dolphin Conservation and a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission - Cetacean Specialist Group and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. I also help direct the Far East Russia Orca Project, a long-term project with Russian scientists to understand the killer whales in the vast Russian waters, and the Russian Cetacean Habitat Project, which studies Baird's beaked whales, North Pacific right whales, and humpback whales in the Russian Commander Islands Biosphere Reserve.

I enjoy giving talks and illustrated presentations. In the past few years, I have been invited to speak in the UK, France, Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, the US, Mexico, Suriname, Panama, Monaco, Argentina and Chile. I especially enjoyed working in Japan giving simulated whale watch presentations at the 2005 World Expo (theme: nature's wonders) and at the World Whale Watching Conference and the Symposium: New Tales about Whales in Science, Society & Art, at the UN University, Tokyo, Dec 2010. In 2014, I helped launch the first Japanese Whale & Dolphin Watching Organization in Tokyo. My other talks are about "my life with orcas", creating marine reserves, "from ants to whales", and the future of marine conservation, "creatures of the deep", and the best dolphin and whale watching around the world. I also give talks on writing popular science with a story: narrative nonfiction, and on preparing book proposals that sell. At a recent public lecture in Adelaide, Australia, I talked about several subjects linked by my search for stories: "Of Orcas, Ants and Creatures of the Deep".

Please see my web sites, and

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully and cleverly edited eclectic collection of stories, articles, poems, scientific treatises, and even cartoons about insects. There are quaint stories from the eighteenth century, studious articles from the nineteenth, and modern selections from such twentieth century experts as Edward O. Wilson, Roger B. Swain. Karl von Frisch, May Berenbaum, Harold Oldroyd and others. Charles Darwin is represented, Aristotle, Alfred Russel Wallace, Thoreau, even the Bible makes an appearance. There are selections from a novella, A.S. Byatt's "Morpho Eugenia"; poems, Wordsworth's "To a Butterfly," Robert Burns's "To a Louse"; and even a bit of a movie, THEM! (1954). Obviously, editors, Hoyt and Schultz are as intent at entertaining as informing. You'll find dozens of different insects here, from house flies and ants to dung beetles and glow-worms to ticks, wasps, silverfish, etc. Each selection is presented with a short note from the editors and followed by a bibliographical entry. There is an index of authors and one of subjects. The selections are collected under various heading, e.g., "Insects Praised," "Insects Reviled," "Insect Architecture," etc. The sheer breath of insect behavior presented here is unnerving: How multifarious are the realities of life! Noteworthy is the meticulous care taken with the editing and proofreading. This is a good and strange read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark B. on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in insects, this book is for you. An excellent collection of a a large quantity of writings and other materials, all about insects. Good bedside reading, as each excerpt is relatively short.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Broderick VINE VOICE on August 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of short pieces about every conceivable type of insect. A few are complete essays, but most are excerpts from longer works. At least one is a one-panel Gary Larson cartoon!
Most of the selections are entertaining, or at least interesting. Many are records of direct observation by naturalists in the 19th or early 20th Centuries. Usually they have some distinguishing feature such as freakish behavior, first observation, or an exceptionally interesting experiment included.
This is not a scientific book on insects--Although many of the authors are scientists, the excerpts don't fit together to make a textbook or organized survey of insects. What it is is very interesting and entertaining--A good bathroom or bedside book for the insect-lover. Definitely do not choose it as your first or only book in trying to learn about insects, but it makes a good addition to the insect library of an enthusiast.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By merrymousies on November 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is such a diverse book - each entry is pretty short so you can pick up the book for a short read. There are some humorous parts, some dense parts, lots of interesting facts. Each entry has a short intro by the author to give some context to who the writer of the piece was and sometimes a bit of background on the essay itself. There are some neat drawings too (grasshoppers through metamorphosis, moth ears, a walking stick to name a few) There's lots of variety in terms of subjects covered ranging from butterflies to bees to aphids to earwigs to ants, wasps and more. Defiintely a good book for anyone interested in insects and it would make an especially nice gift since the content is so unusual.
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By Amazon Customer on July 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I absolutely love this book. I do have a fascination with insects which help with this book. There is incerpts of so many discoveries of when the insects where first found so the terminology is basic and the descriptions are accurate in laymans terms. I have had to buy three other books that they took incerpts in because I was so intrigued.
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