From Kirkus Reviews
Nature's evolutionary success story, the indestructible cockroach, gets the full treatment in Schweid's (Catfish and the Delta, 1992, etc.) zesty survey of roach fact and fancy. You may not want to dedicate your life to the study of cockroaches, as have an alarming number of researchers interviewed by Schweid, but the cockroach is, biologically speaking, a marvel. Roaches predate dinosaurs by over 150 million years, and they've never had, or needed, a design change. They eat anythingfeces, dead humans, sour beer, their own youngexcept cucumbers, which give them gas. There are over 5000 species. There may well be a like number of the creatures in your night-darkened kitchen, for most are long gone by the time you flick on the light, having detected your presence with anal sensors that vibrated in the air you disturbed entering the room. Schweid has gleaned hundreds of such tidbits for his readers' appalled pleasure, such as why roaches thrive in teeming fellowship: They suffer from positive thigmotaxis, an unquenchable desire to be touched on all sides, by their kin, say, or snugly burrowed in your ear. Introducing the chapters on etymology, physiology, pest control, and the like are autobiographical vignettes, shaped into investigative reports and delivered with the hard-bitten edge of a journalist who has seen too much for his health. Each story allows Schweid a passage over which he can skate to the main topic. But readers who linger will find the stories themselves taut, sharply written treasures, as roaches work their way into a mob-menaced New York City bar, attest to the wicked degradation visited on Ciudad Juarez by American corporations looking for cheap labor, and plague adolescent glue-sniffers in the slums of Managua. Loath cockroaches if you must, grind them underfoot. But it is the time-tested roach, Schweid makes clear, who will have the last laugh. (Photographs, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Richard Schweid is the author of three books on such diverse subjects as hot peppers and Cajuns, catfish farmers in the Mississippi Delta, and Barcelona, Spain, where he lives.