Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos Hardcover – Oct 1992
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From Library Journal
Known for his ability to present complex scientific information clearly and entertainingly, Dethier introduces crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers (locusts), whose sounds, though familiar, are largely ignored by all but specialists. He writes of his experiences in the late 1930s, when as a graduate student he served as field assistant to the late George W. Pierce, famous for his work on insect sound production and detection. Dethier takes us on an informative and entertaining summer's tour of insects in the Franklin, New Hampshire area and acquaints us with their habits and songs. Not intended as an exhaustive treatment or field guide, his book does list important references of the past century and gives keys to species and their songs. Rorer's charming black-and-white drawings adorn the text. Admirers of Dethier's previous works, e.g., To Know a Fly (1962), will welcome his latest effort.
- Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Richly written, elegantly organized, and beautifully illustrated with Abigail Rorer's graceful line drawings, this charming reminiscence succeeds on every level. It illuminates the habits of New England's 40 or so orthopteran insects and teaches us to appreciate their adaptations and variation. It reminds us to attend to the world around us; to listen to its jubilant songs, breathe in the 'winey evanescence' of fallen apples and savor the caress of cool air flowing from the fringes of a shady hardwood forest. It recalls the pleasures of being young, of finding new facts and seeing new patterns in the mosaic of nature, and captures the ineffable sensations of a fine New England summer.
--John R. Alden (Smithsonian Magazine)
This book is the product of Vincent Dethier's experiences studying the natural history and singing behavior of crickets and katydids. The book chronicles the emergence of orthopteran species over the summer season and their contributions to the chorus in fields and woods. The details of these insects' lives are fascinating, but I was even more impressed with the true theme of the book: the making of a scientist...This is a beautifully written natural history book.
--Elizabeth Braker (Ecology)
[This book] can be enjoyed by anyone with even a passing interest in crickets and their repertoires. Dethier's writing is beautiful, almost poetic.
--Jonathan Beard (New Scientist)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I found this book to be an easy and enjoyable read, I especially enjoyed that it did not assume that I already knew a lot about crickets, katydids and grasshoppers or really much of anything about etymology. Even though the book was on a basic level I felt that I came away from it with a new knowledge of these loud insects and their diversity. I can appreciate how their sounds are made and differences in their sounds more now than prior to reading the book. The books appendixes were also very good, like a miniature field guide of what was talked about in less detail in the book. I thought this was a nice addition for those who wanted to use the book for more than just an interesting read or to just learn in more depth the insects being discussed through the literature.
It seems that Vincent Dethier's purpose in writing the book was to increase general knowledge and appreciation for the vast "unseen but heard" number of insects living in our backyards, such as the elusive Tree Crickets or the True Northern Katydid. He wanted to show people that these insects are not just pests, but creatures so amazing and so perfectly suited for their various habitats and time of emergence. I think that there is, of course, some bias on Dethier's part as there will always be people, no matter how much they know about insects, that will never come to see them as anything other than pests that they have to shoo out of their houses and cars.
Crickets and Katydids had its boring moments; when you grew tired of hearing the recounting of the terrain in great detail. More often than not the book was quite interesting and did well at holding my attention; the great descriptions were interwoven with the joy of finding the new insect they had not recorded, or various awkward moments relatable to any etymologist, "bug catcher" type. The book ended very nicely with a last tid-bit from a cricket lingering in the encroaching winter. It felt satisfying to be completed, all questions answered and everything pulling together perfectly in the end.
Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos is a book that I would recommend to anyone looking to gain a little more knowledge on the behaviors, habitats, and songs of these insects. The reader, thankfully, does not need an extensive, or even a scientific, background to enjoy this book. The way Vincent G. Dethier weaves together facts and observances with a pleasant story of his adventures one summer makes it an enjoyable book to read. Let Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos take you through a summer in New England marked not in days or months, but in the emergence of new species of singing insects.
Review By: E. Jackson, University of Massachusetts: Boston
The author was, at the time, a young man during the Great Depression. He wrote of those days more than fifty years later with a clear mind and the lovely touch of a poet who worked in prose. He had been, in the early 1930's, an apprentice entomologist roaming the fields of Massachusetts. He not only noticed things most people rarely see. He sought those things out.
He wrote well of humans, the old ones gathered nightly to watch the locomotive thunder by. He wrote equally well of cows "gloriously drunk" on long-fallen apples. But he wrote best of all about insects, of collecting crickets at night in a graveyard. He honored the locust, lauding their "tenure on Earth exceeding the period of occupation of human beings and an ability to compete successfully with people."
Finally, he wrote movingly of summer shutting down and autumn nearing. He saw the once fresh and brilliant flowers fading to the "colors of the aged" and the "rough and tweedy" fields "as though an old brown woolen jacket had been thrown over them to ward off the chill."
Above all, this overlooked book is about the virtues of listening and paying attention, hearing the hidden things that also have value in their lives, and in ours.
The moment I picked up this book, I did not have much knowledge or understanding of crickets nor did I know what katydids were. This was not just a book that an entomologist could enjoy. “Crickets and Katydidss, Concerts and Solos,” educated me on the subject of orthopterans in a more artistic approach. The text was written accurately but was slightly difficult to keep up with some vocabulary. Finishing the book had a very satisfying feeling and also relief. Some points were redundant and lost my attention for a bit but learned a lot on the behaviors or crickets, grasshoppers, and locust. This book has definitely changed my way of enjoying scenery and cricket chirps.
The book is written like a personal journal and the way Dethier shows his perspective while changing yours is beautifully executed. I recommend this book if you want a chill read as a music lover but you must also have an interest in entomology.
In order to make recordings of these "songs" it was first necessary to capture the insects and much of this book describes his work in the field tracking down all the local varieties in a wide range of ecologies. He also gives technical explanations of how the sounds are produced.
The technology was not available at the time, but I found myself wishing throughout the book that I could actually hear the sounds while reading about them. A companion CD would be much appreciated!
This book is interesting but lacks the charm of his other books, particuarly To Know a Fly and The Ecology of a Summer House.
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