Emily's Reviews > The Illustrated Insectopedia

The Illustrated Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles
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's review
Jan 05, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in January, 2011

Hard to put stars to this one because it was so not what I was expecting. When "-pedia" is used as a suffix, I generally expect something encyclopedic, covering a breadth of the topic with some depth, objectivity and detail. Instead this is a series of 26 essays (each titled with a word starting with successive letters of the alphabet) on seemingly random topics that sometimes were only peripherally connected to the world of insects.

Some of the essays were very, very good. A couple of the strongest were only a couple of pages long, but captured the awesome beauty of millions of nomadic butterflies or the music of thousands of singing cicadas. The language of bees was explored in one, including not only how they communicate with each other, but how scientists figured it out. One titled "Jews" expounded upon Heinrich Himmler's infamous quote about antisemitism: "Antisemitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness." Mr. Raffles dissects the dehumanizing process the Nazis used to destroy millions of Jews by closely examining lice and our uneasy relationship with these parasitic blood-sucking bugs. It was fascinating.

But then there were several that made my eyes glaze over. 40 pages on the big beetles collecting craze in Japan. A seriously disturbing essay on foot fetishes and crush videos. Four pages detailing all the different nightmares you can have about bugs. And lots of others that just didn't catch my attention after I started skimming.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann Lewis Can't wait to hear how you like this one. I LOVE bugs and have collected them with my kid for years.

OK, I need to know. How do you find time to read so much???? And where do you find the books on your lists? and do people pay you for the great review you write? And what did you study? and do you live at a library?
I just love watching what you read from a distance and wish I could do the same.
Ann in Orem.

Emily Hi Ann! I'll send you an email... :)

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