- Gebundene Ausgabe: 271 Seiten
- Verlag: Lyons Pr; Auflage: 1 (11. Januar 2010)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1599215551
- ISBN-13: 978-1599215556
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,1 x 15,7 x 3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.095.028 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 11. Januar 2010
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"[A] compelling, all-angles examination. . . . Laufer delivers an absorbing science lesson for fans of the colorful bugs." --"Publishers Weekly""" "Recommended for scientists and lay readers who enjoyed Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief."" --"Library Journal" "Like "The Orchid Thief," "The Dangerous World of Butterflies" takes us deep into the dark heart of obsessed collectors and the passionate activism of people working to repopulate species like the Palos Verdes blue. Worlds within worlds: Laufer, a veteran reporter on cultural and political borders, understands how these worlds cross and collide. His book is a Venn diagram of the beautiful and bizarre." --"Los Angeles Times""" "[Laufer's] book is charming and his attention to detail, combined with a real gift for describing these fascinating characters -- like calling entomologist Arthur Shapiro "an endless litany of intriguing butterfly stories" -- made me want to read everything else he has written." --Andrew Ervin, "Washington Post""" ..".Laufer's "The Dangerous World of Butterflies" packs real entertainment wallop in a book filled with informed tidbits custom-designed for cocktail hour." --P. Joseph Potocki, "The Bohemian""" "A charming . . . meditation on butterflies and the people who love them." --"Kirkus""" ""The Dangerous World of Butterflies: the Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists" by Peter Laufer is an eye-opening peek into the world of butterfly collecting. From true crime to heated debates between butterfly conservationists and butterfly farmers, this book reads like a novel." --"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette""" "Like "The Orchid Thief," a book that exposed many unexpected aspects connected to another of nature's beautiful gifts, "The Dangerous World of Butterflies" is an entertaining, enlightening read." --"Seattle Times" "Laufer weaves his tale with a genial flair. . . . The journey with Laufer is one well worth taking." --"Audubon""" "From the natural history and ecology
Well written and researched. A great read from a well read author.
After finishing this book, I bought a field guide to butterflies and have now begun to understand more about a life I had only enjoyed from an outsiders perspective.
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The premise of the book is this: a professional writer/war correspondent decides to take some time off from his "serious" book projects to write about butterflies - "creatures of airiness and frivolity" (H. W. Bates, 1865). I have never read (and never will read) another book by Peter Laufer, but if this work is representative of the quality of his usual journalistic scholarship, then someone should revoke his Ph.D. and his license to write nonfiction.
Laufer's research for this effort seems to have been composed of interviews with a rather arbitrarily selected (and California-centric) group of lepidopterists, ranging from university professors like Tom Emmel (U. Florida), Art Shapiro (U. C. Davis) and Robert Dudley (U. C. Berkeley) to North American Butterfly Association founder and ardent butterfly watcher and anti-collector Jeff Glassberg, to a couple who run a commercial butterfly farm in Nicaragua, to artists who use butterflies or their parts to make various displays, to other scientists engaged in habitat restoration and captive-rearing for population restoration of endangered butterfly species. The "dangerous" part implied by the title relates to a couple of chapters on a trio of American poachers and one Japanese dealer in endangered and federally and internationally protected butterfly species, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife agents who caught and prosecuted them. Why should we care that nonviolent criminals went to jail for a few years for breaking federal law: because only in a wacky country like the US would we send somebody to jail for catching/selling a butterfly? (NB: in the state of Washington, as well as various European countries, it is illegal to collect butterflies without a permit. NB: it is also illegal in many places to hunt and fish without a licence!)
Tongue-in-cheek characterization of these sundry butterfly enthusiasts these may seem titillating, given the generally perceived eccentricity of anyone who cares about insects, but let's imagine the book were about some other pointless folly like, for example, baseball. Would it be acceptable to mangle names and statistics of players, to trivialize the fascination of the fans? I don't think so.
More than half of the Latin names of butterfly species discussed in the book are spelled incorrectly. Laufer evidently dismisses people who worry about such minutia as obsessive compulsive wonks, but again, would it be acceptable to write about the ballpark exploits of Joe da Majyo or Loo Garig? This carelessness is particularly offensive in instances where the English name of the species is based on the Latin name - such as Alexandra's birdwing, Troides (Ornithoptera) alexandrae or Lange's metalmark, Apodemia mormo langei. Laufer manages to mangle both of these, as well as numerous others.
Another recurrent error is the idea that the process of metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is some sort of miraculous scientific mystery. True, we do not understand the precise developmental cascade of genetic switches that allows a second round of development from imaginal discs in the pupa - a feature shared among all holometabolous insects (including beetles, flies and wasps), but if Laufer were even remotely curious about this, he might have consulted someone who studies it, such as Sean Carrol (U. Wisconsin) or Fred Nijhout (Duke U.). It is certainly not the case that all the larval cells beak down into liquid!
Throughout the book are bits of annoying butterfly trivia that Laufer has stumbled upon, perhaps via Google searches. He manages, for example, to cite the lepidopteran in the Lunesta advertisements as a butterfly! Maybe a luna moth? You know - like to help you sleep at NIGHT? Here's one he missed: the song "In-a-gadda-da-vida" by Iron Butterfly has the longest drum solo of any top-40 hit. Do these factoids have anything at all to do with butterflies? To me, they are just feeble gonzo free-associations of an author who has nothing to say and is trying to pad an inadequate and largely incoherent "story line."
Most of the less glowing reviews of this book were written by people put off by Laufer's political stance with regard to the Bush administration and its various wars. While those jibes are indeed tangential to the focus of the book, the thing I found most offensive was the repeated imputation that sticking a butterfly with a pin is cruel (an idea addressed and refuted nearly 200 years ago by Kirby and Spence (1828)), and that major butterfly collections are historical accumulations representing the efforts of obsessed Victorian naturalists, and now stored as static objets d'arte in antique wooden boxes. The fact is that most of what we know about the variability, geographical distributions and phenology of the world's flora and fauna is based on museum collections. Collecting remains a vital and fundamental activity in the continuing enhancement of our understanding of biodiversity. For example, in order to determine that a species is in need of conservation, you first need some idea of its historical distribution and population size. You need to know its habits, what it eats, etc., in order to be able to develop a plan to save it. Much of those data come from museum collections.
Of course, there is a spectrum of motivations for the collector's impulse. Some people want to possess rare or valuable things, others do it because they want to contribute to the community of science. This latter group, which I suspect is in the majority, is sorely neglected in Laufer's book. A proper book about butterfly collectors would address both sides of the story, not simply promulgate the ignorant and pejorative Fowlesian view of "the Collector."
A few years ago, May Berenbaum (U. Illinois) and colleagues (McKenna et al. 2001) published a small but devastating paper showing that the number of butterflies killed due to traffic on the highways of Illinois over a few summer weeks vastly outstrips the entire specimen holdings of the world's great public butterfly collections. Thus, if one really desires to save the lives of innocent butterflies, one should work to reduce the U. S. automotive speed limit to 25 mph, rather than wringing one's hands about the cruel and deviant nature of the few thousands of people who enjoy to wander the woods and fields with a butterfly net.
The Lepidopterists' Society, an international organization of butterfly and moth enthusiasts, has a thoughtful and balanced position statement on the ethics of collecting which interested readers may find at [...] This site also contains a wealth of other information about butterflies.
In sum, you would learn more about Lepidoptera by reading "the Hungry Caterpillar" than you will from this loser.
Bates, H.W. (1863) The naturalist on the River Amazons, Penguin Books edition (1988), New York
Kirby, W. and Spence, W. (1828) An introduction to entomology. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, London.
McKenna, D.M., McKenna, K.M., Malcolm, S.B. and Berenbaum, M.R. (2001) Mortality of Lepidoptera along roadways in central Illinois. J. Lepid. Soc. 55: 63-68.
Pins and Needles
Peter Laufer's dangerous world of butterflies
By P. Joseph Potocki
It wouldn't be Holy Week in Chihuahua without the tacos--Tarahumara butterfly pupae tacos--slathered in special seasonal sauce, to be exact. And in Australia, sweet, fire-roasted bugongs, their wings and legs removed, have long been an aboriginal gastric delight.
In his latest book, The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists (Lyons Press; $24.95) author, broadcaster and journalist Peter Laufer turns from weighty subjects like war, politics and foreign policy to the ephemeral but sometimes deadly world of butterflies.
And it all began as a joke. Based in Bodega Bay, Laufer was speaking at a promotional event in Bellingham, Wash., for the launch of his previous book Hope Is a Tattered Flag. An attendee inquired after the nature of his next effort. Having addressed a wide range of serious topics in 16 previous books, Laufer off-handedly remarked that perhaps he'd next amuse himself with "butterflies and flowers."
The Bellingham event happened to be broadcast on C-SPAN. A woman watching the program took Laufer for his word and invited him to her remote butterfly reserva in Nicaragua. Thus Laufer's musing morphed into what turns out to be colorfully flightful and sometimes dangerous business.
Laufer begins by regaling us with stories of drunken butterflies, flight dynamics, communication systems, pompous experts, breeders and fluttering loads of exoterica. He lavishes such facts as:
* There is no official name for a mass of butterflies;
* Experts still debate the butterfly's role in nature;
* No new species has been discovered in America for the past 50 years;
* The website IHateButterflies.com is for lepidopterophobs--people who "fear, are disgusted by, and generally dislike butterflies";
* Monarchs make haste from Canada to winter in Mexico, but expend four or five generations before finally making it back.
Judging from this, one might get the notion that here we have a modestly pleasant toss. But reading into the heart of the book, things turn serious.
Laufer profiles Hisayoshi Kojima, the man who calls himself "the world's most wanted butterfly smuggler." Laufer's Kojima story is a mini detective thriller. It begins with Fish and Wildlife Service agent Ed Newcomer, who picked up a cold case investigation of the smuggler begun by his agency in 1999. Newcomer went undercover, tenaciously tracking Kojima's sales of rare and threatened butterfly species. Newcomer stuck with the case until Kojima was finally sent to federal prison, seven years later. Laufer's telling includes plot twists, false starts, ego strokes, exhilaration and even unrequited lust.
But as it turns out, Kojima's tale was just a tease for the serious cloak and dagger stuff that follows. He was a smuggler, yes, but Kojima was just a middle-man.
The violent butterfly baddies are the poachers. Laufer quotes naturalist and biologist Vladimir Dinets, who tells him, "Professional poachers are tough people, excellent mountaineers, and they try to make friends with local warlords and drug smugglers." Dinets, who has tracked the trade on expeditions into Central Asia, points to the sophisticated espionage technologies and techniques employed by the poachers, describing them as "James Bond-style."
Laufer also tells of forest guards in Darjeeling protecting what are characterized as national living treasures, confronting poachers armed with AK-47s, while the guards themselves carry mere sticks; and of the sensational Bengali court case of a Czech beetle research aide convicted of poaching rare butterflies who subsequently fled from justice.
But at least one butterfly expert, University of Florida's Thomas Emmel, feels all the legal fuss is much ado about nothing. According to Emmel, "No butterfly has been exterminated by overcollecting, ever."
It's difficult to pin down the practical, never mind the intrinsic value of butterflies. While one expert says, "Butterflies are hope," another counters, "They're really just pretty-colored cockroaches." No matter personal opinion, though, Laufer's The Dangerous World of Butterflies packs real entertainment wallop in a book filled with informed tidbits custom-designed for cocktail hour. In fact, did you know that Ron Boender, the proprietor of Florida's Butterfly World, is a big Bill O'Reilly fan? "I think he does a good job of presenting the other side of the story." Indeed. And so does Laufer.
Since reading The Dangerous World of Butterflies, I too see butterflies everywhere. This year I will leave all of the milkweed growing in my garden.