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Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  484 ratings  ·  77 reviews
For centuries, blood feeders have inhabited our nightmares and horror stories, as well as the shadowy realms of scientific knowledge. In Dark Banquet, zoologist Bill Schutt takes readers on an entertaining voyage into the world of some of nature’s strangest creatures—the sanguivores. Using a sharp eye and mordant wit, Schutt makes a remarkably persuasive case that vampire ...more
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Harmony (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,765)
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Yes, folks, here it is - all that you will ever want to know about vampire bats, leeches, barber/surgeons and other bloodsuckers (oddly enough, the chapter on corporate lawyers seems to be missing from this edition.) This is a seriously entertaining and informative book for the unsqueamish reader interested in learning more about the world and its unusual creatures.

While I absolutely love bats, I found the leech chapter to be the most fascinating part of this title. True, some anecdotes made me
My favorite quote from this book, which also sums it up nicely: "Feeding on blood is a tough way to make a living."

Schutt, an expert on vampire bats, has written an easily-read treatise on some of the more interesting "obligate sanguivores" (love this term!) that inhabit our world. The main species he dwells on are the three species of vampire bat, leeches, and bed bugs, although there is some mention of a unique blood-feeding finch from the Galapagos and the exaggeratedly dangerous Amazonian ca
Aimed at the armchair biologist, this book was actually pretty entertaining. It was the most amusing biology book I've ever read - the author threw in quite a few dryly humourous observations that I enjoyed. I originally picked it up because I like reading about bats, but the section of the book which will stick in my memory most vividly was the chapter on bed bugs. It was quite horrific, and I don't know if I ever want to move to a new residence or even put my luggage on an airplane again for f ...more
Fascinating, humoruous and bizarre: this book has everything I look for in non-fiction. My husband learned far more than he ever wanted to know about vampire bats, leeches, bed bugs and blood while I was reading this book--it's the sort of volume that compels the reader to exclaim aloud "WOW! Listen to this!"
I really enjoyed this book over all. However, the section of the book about the author's studies of vampire bats in Trinidad was incredible! One of the best things I've ever read. It helps that I'm a big ol' bat geek, but it really is well written, with lots of relevant footnotes (dude, don't skip the footnotes; you'll miss a lot). Incidentally, if you've ever wanted to learn more about natural selection and/or bat paleontology, Schutt does a great job of explaining both of those subjects to lay ...more
If you really wanted a fun read about blood sucking creatures this is it. Funny, insightful, interesting, and engaging!

Charnel House- house structre used to store bones

Soucouy Ants- Trinidad - Local superstition of human sized blood feeders
old crones that shed their skin at night
Defeat with a bag of rice opened at the door, They must stop and count all the grains.

Barber surgeons - Barber Pole-
red stripe- blood
blue stripe- veins
white stripe- bandages
pole- for the patient to grab onto as he is bl
What mars this book is a woeful lack of an organizing principle (an entire book about creatures that feed on blood and essentially nothing about mosquitoes?) and the vicissitudes of the author’s own attention span. He’s excited about bats, it appears, but the chapter on bed bugs is a series of silly puns and phoned-it-in reportage that has all the intellectual rigor of a sidebar in People magazine. It’s hard to know what was going on with Schutt and this book, but he ought either to have abandon ...more
Veronica Noechel
Very well researched, fun, and fast moving. It's a bit like attending a class taught by the coolest biology professor ever. You don't even have to be a goth dork (like me) or an insect-paranoid anxiety case with a morbid facination for bedbugs (like me) to love this book. Do not be afraid--it didn't take me a month to get through this, I just have a habit of forgetting to check in and change what book I'm reading here. In reality, I was so engrossed, I read the majority of the book on a 3 day (a ...more
Ryan Mishap
This is awesome! Well-written, descriptive, funny, digressive, and filled with enthusiasm, this amalgation of blood facts and fables, natural history and myths, scientific details and humorous asides,and funny little drawings was fun to read.
Of course I liked the first part about vampire bats the most--oh, like the little bat who spider-walks up to hens, mimics chicks, and then gets invited under the hen where they have a nosh--, but the entire book held my attention beginning to end.
His st
Rachel Smalter Hall
I now have way more disgusting anecdotes to share with the world about vampire bats, leeches, bedbugs, dick fish, and anything else that could suck your blood. Consider: a battalion in Napoleon's army washed their faces in a river, inadvertently getting leech eggs lodged in their noses and throats, and ended up dying a gruesome and painful death when the lil baby leeches came alive inside of them! So, I appreciate this aspect of Dark Banquet.

I got a little bored, though, when Schutt went off on
Aug 26, 2009 Iris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Iris by: NYTimes Science section
Shelves: science
Illuminating! Inspiring! Oh, Bill Schutt, your snappy prose, love of learning, and lifetime of research whetted my appetite and fueled my cocktail party chatter.

I'm particularly grateful for the stylized sketches of vampire bats, for the history of a Parisian sociopath with cow's blood coursing through his veins (Antoine Mauroy in 1667), and for the moving coda about the preciousness of blood-eating creatures.

Schutt's innovative ideas and science-history tangents incite the reader to brainstorm
The book was informative, and at its strongest when focusing on the author's specialty (vampire bats). But it was also inconsistent, jumping between topics and pushing a lot of tangential discussions. The author does a nice job getting the science right, but at times the primers on basic evolutionary biology felt like something inserted either because he had it readily available from his lecture notes or because this way the book could be presented straight-faced to a P&T committee. The gran ...more
Oh, finally, a vampire book worth reading! When was the last time a worthy vampire book was published? I certainly can't remember, but here is one, finally! The best part about Dark Banquet is that it's far creepier than any other vampire book you can find, because the blood feeders in this book are real!

Bill Schutt is a bat biologist and seems to have a particular fondness for the vampiric variety. His enthusiasm is apparent from the beginning, when he retells his experiences in Trinidad observ
A fantastic blend of dark satire and informative humor, Bill Schutt has written what we're all afraid to think about (some of us anyway). Schutt not only provides information on vampire bats, leeches, and ticks (just to name a few critters), he also explains what blood really is. Schutt is a witty little vampire and I'm proud to have read his book.
Liz De Coster
The first portion of this book - primarily about bats - I found interesting, informative and funny. The middle section - on blood - was informative. The last section, especially the part about bed bugs, made me want to bleach my entire house.
This book is DELIGHTFUL. I have rarely been so happy with an unresearched, impulse buy as I am with this book. Bats are some of my favorite animals so I was completely enthralled with the first part concerning the blood-sucking subset of those wonderful animals and the following sections on blood itself and leeches were equally fascinating. I'll say I found my enthusiasm lacking in the rest of the book. I am just not that interested in bugs outside of spiders and scorpions (and, apparently, leec ...more
I thought I might have to give up on this one. Couldn't read it whilst eating (which is when I do a LOT of reading, especially at breakfast and dinner). Couldn't read it right before bed. Keep getting grossed out...apparently it is difficult to do vampire bat research without getting overly familiar with the inner workings of slaughterhouses (that is, if you want to feed your bats). On the other hand, this is really an interesting book...if you want to entertain your preteen nephews with gross f ...more
Very readable, and I believe accessible to people who have no background in biology, though the ending seemed rather quick and I don't think I got as much information about the blood drinking finch as I had hoped. Not even a disclaimer that not much is known. The vampire bats parts that the author did his own research on is good though! I hope that he will, in the future, expand on the information in newer editions of this book as more comes to light about these very small ecological niches.

4 st
Savannah Toner
Vampire bats and other blood sucking animals are the main characters showcased. Instead of examining all creatures that feed on blood, the focus is on a few including vampire bats, leeches, chiggers/ticks, beg bugs and even medical blood letting. As I read, it became obvious that the author has a passion for vampire bats. I found that this section was the one I enjoyed the most and was the most in depth. I wish that the author would write a book primarily based on these fascinating bats. Family ...more
i made a vow to read more non-fiction this year (but in such a way as to avoid becoming the type of person who only reads non-fiction and only listens to npr), and what better way to start it off than by indulging my penchant for the odd and slightly macabre? this book is educational and interesting enough, though reviewer's claims of 'charming' and 'exceptionally engaging' don't ring quite true. best are the chapters about vampire bats- did you know that out of eleven hundred species of bats, o ...more
I am having a difficult time doing an overall rating for this book. I really enjoyed the first part of this book, on vampire bats - that gets 5 stars. Having worked with them in the past, I found his observations to be spot-on, and I discovered many more fascinating insights on them as well. Schutt provided anecdotes from his personal career and experience, which I liked.

The second part on the specific biology of blood was also very interesting. I was especially intrigued with the historical co
First, what I didn't like: bedbugs. Ewwwww. Had to skip parts of that chapter. But I did find some tips on how to figure out if you have the critters at your house, what to do if you do, and how to prevent them from moving in. But gross.

Occasionally, I got a little bogged down in technical stuff. Maybe a glossary would have helped.

But everything else, I really liked. The coolest part, I thought, was the part about the leeches. I had actually read some of that before, in Spineless Wonders, but I
A really well-written non-fiction novel about vampire bats, leeches, bed bugs, and the substance they all feed on. The biological and anatomical information is written in language easy to decipher and digest even for those of us not well-educated in the fields of study, and the author makes just the right amount of humorous quips throughout. He includes quite a few personal anecdotes as bridges for discussing the majority of the topics, and sometimes the dialogue sounds contrived for maximum edg ...more
An excellent, positive and well-balanced book about a creature needlessly feared by so many people. The writing style is clear, accessible, but accurate and informative. If you're at all a nature-lover, you will develop a better appreciation of these tiny flying mammals and why their survival is so important.
Bill likes bats. Bill studies bats for a living. Bill writes lovingly and knowledgeably about bats. So Bill, stick to what you know and write a book about bats.
Once the opening chapter about vampire bats ends (after taking up about a third of the book) Bill is obviously on less familiar ground. The next chapter about bed bugs is enough to make you paranoid about staying in hotels, but I didn't read this book expecting to get tips on buying mattresses.
The author mentions multiple times that
I now know more than I ever wanter about the complexities of blood circulation and the critters that want our blood.
Although the book was very interesting, it was a little more than I wanted and had to give up about halfway through.
Mr. Schutt's commentary and asides definitely mitigated the "gore".
dark banquet was informative and fun. it did sometimes go overly science-y so I skipped a paragraph here and there, which is not my norm. the author did seem to be trying to convince you not to hate or denigrate blood feeders (sanguivores) but really, would a creepy hater ever pick up this book? I think only the pro-leech community would get past the title.

any author who writes "...the liquefied dermal stew is snorked up through the stylostome..." about chiggers is okay by me.

the illustrations
One of the questions that came up for me as I read this book was: how do obligate blood-feeders protect themselves from diseases and parasites found in their hosts' blood? This was not answered in any detail in Dark Banquet, although there is plenty of other fascinating-and occasionally offputting- information throughout this book.

Sometimes Schutt's humorous asides were a little bothersome; I could see where they might come off in a better way in a classroom setting than in print. In print, som
The vampire bat part of the book was probably most interesting (unsurprising as that's what the authors specialization is) but the leech part has the most "wtf" and nightmare inducing anecdote about leeches (that I promptly sent to all my friends - if I can't sleep because of wandering leeches neither can they). And the third part of this book was kind of like a grab bag of other things that didn't merit their own chapter, so it kind of felt like it came undone a bit there. However it was pretty ...more
It is long and a bit boring thus making it hard to read. It disappoint me because the theme was actually something i found quite interesting
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Bio-Nerds: Autumn 2014: Dark Banquet by Bill Schutt 1 11 Sep 15, 2014 04:33AM  
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