Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests
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Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of improbable bark beetle outbreaks unsettled iconic forests and communities across western North America. An insect the size of a rice kernel eventually killed more than 30 billion pine and spruce trees from Alaska to New Mexico. Often appearing in masses larger than schools of killer whales, the beetles engineered one of the world's...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Greystone Books
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Ruth Seeley
A fascinating read that, unfortunately, is mostly a scathing indictment of corporate and political folly (what's unfortunate about it is that there doesn't seem to be any way back, given the perfect storm we've colluded in creating by promoting monoculture instead of the natural diversity nature intended). Nikiforuk's a compelling writer, and provides an excellent overview of the factors that have combined to doom our forests: a refusal to let forests renew themselves by fire; global warming lea...more
This might be the only book about forests I'd recommend to the average reader ahead of The Golden Spruce. Basically global warming and fire suppression have created a perfect storm, with beetles breeding faster, surviving winter more often and increasing in range every year. The Mountain Pine Beetle's moved east through Alberta's Peace river area, and now has unimpeded access to Jack Pines from Yukon to Newfoundland. There's a truly terrifying scale to all bark beetle bubbles from towering Sitka...more
Diana Sandberg
Wow - a non-fiction book that I found as compelling reading as a good novel. Nikiforuk deftly interweaves information about the recent history of various beetle infestations of forests with a larger focus on the ecology of forests in general, the life cycle of these beetles and the complexity of their interactions with not only trees but mites and fungus. He includes stories of ancient trees with singular pollinators and their crucial significance to bears. And he delineates the human elements -...more
Gin Getz
I was recommended this book as "the bible on beetle kill" and I was not disappointed. Mr. Nikiforuk has done his research, presents the story, and tells it well, in a manner not strictly scientific and "above" the reader, but for and with the reader. If you're interested in learning about the bark beetle, its history and the wake of damage, I highly recommend.
Jace Stansbury
For all you beetle lovers this is the book for you.
Oct 14, 2012 Mortalform rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mortalform by: ALECC conference
An Anchorage newspaper made an astute observation about the infestation: "In a sense the beetle is managing spruce forests by killing old trees and leaving the new. But the Forest Service would rather manage its own trees. And has been experimenting with ways to beat the beetle at its game." p 9

This book brilliantly illustrates the fact that humanity does more harm than good when it gets in the way of nature's design. As humans we simply lack the capacity to understand nature's systems with the...more
Overall, I quite liked this book. Entertaining to read, and of course I feel like I finally have a proper understanding of the beetle phenomena. I totally agree with Nikiforuk's analysis of the forest industry and in fact, feel like he could have been even MORE damning of it at times. My only problem with the book was the occasional metaphor that felt a bit overdramatic, and redundant. He occasionally repeats himself, although it's not too big of a problem. I'll definitely read some more from hi...more
Have always wondered about the pine beetles and folks always ask me since I'm an entomologist. The book was a bit dry and repetitive, but an interesting exploration of the underlying dangers to America's forests made apparent, but not necessarily caused by, the pine beetle. Could have done without the random side comments about Stephen wood being a Mormon...they were unneeded jabs that had nothing to do with the story and interrupted the flow of the scientific text.
Charles Tripp
To opinionated for me, if the author stuck to the facts and didn't place his opinion of every fact that he stated it would have been a great book, great writing tho. I would like to check other books by this author to see how he is on other topics.
Jerry Haigh
Much more information about beetles than I had ever realized. Human folly and greed and their failed attempts to deal with natural cycles. A thoroughly researched account that will fascinate students of natural history.
Wow, great read heartbreaking and life-affirming at the same time. Nikiforuk really brings out the complexity of the beetle-tree interaction and tries to disabuse us of the notion that we can control ecosystems.
Emiko Morita
I think Mr. Nikiforuk fell in love with beetles while researching this book! It's a fascinating read and I loved the anecdotes about artists who have created everything from compositions to sculptures.
While the content was extremely interesting and important, it seemed as if the author ran out of time to incorporate edits and make his thoughts flow coherently.
Feb 19, 2013 ACRL added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motw
Read by ACRL Member of the Week Kathleen Monks. Learn more about Kathleen on the ACRL Insider blog.
David Kessler
A wonderful book which shows how foulish we can be in trying to stop nature run its course.
Short and sweet reading.
Mike Dettinger
Important for any one living and caring about western landscapes. And well written too.
Kathleen McRae
Excellant read! Is it true? This book could convince me. It is well documented
Yet another nail in our collective coffin. This should be required reading.
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Andrew Nikiforuk is a leading investigative journalist who has written about education, economics, and the environment for the past two decades. His work has appeared in a variety of Canadian publications including The Walrus, Maclean's, Canadian Business, Report on Business, Chatelaine, Georgia Straight, Equinox and Harrowsmith.

He is the author of the critically acclaimed Empire of the Beetle and...more
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