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Dazzled and Deceived Mimicry and Camouflage by Peter Forbes

Dazzled and Deceived Mimicry and Camouflage


Dazzled and Deceived Mimicry and Camouflage by Peter Forbes

Nature has perfected the art of deception. Thousands of creatures all over the world-including butterflies, moths, fish, birds, insects and snakes-have honed and practiced camouflage over hundreds of millions of years. Imitating other animals or their surroundings, nature's fakers use mimicry to protect themselves, to attract and repel, to bluff and warn, to forage, and to hide. The advantages of mimicry are obvious-but how does blind nature do it? And how has humanity learned to profit from nature's ploys? Dazzled and Deceived tells the unique and fascinating story of mimicry and camouflage in science, art, warfare, and the natural world. Discovered in the 1850s by the young English naturalists Henry Walter Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace in the Amazonian rainforest, the phenomenon of mimicry was seized upon as the first independent validation of Darwin's theory of natural selection. But mimicry and camouflage also created a huge impact outside the laboratory walls. Peter Forbes's cultural history links mimicry and camouflage to art, literature, military tactics, and medical cures across the twentieth century, and charts its intricate involvement with the perennial dispute between evolution and creationism. As Dazzled and Deceived unravels the concept of mimicry, Forbes introduces colorful stories and a dazzling cast of characters-Roosevelt, Picasso, Nabokov, Churchill, and Darwin himself, to name a few-whom its mystery influenced and enthralled. Illuminating and lively, Dazzled and Deceived sheds new light on the greatest quest: to understand the processes of life at its deepest level.


'Forbes sees with lovely clarity that nature, like art, is a bricoleur.'
(Veronica Horwell

, The Guardian) 'An intriguing and fluent narrative... Forbes's emphasis makes this a distinctively British story.
(Marek Kohn

, The Independent) 'He tells brilliantly this exciting and colourful story with good anecdotes, bizarre characters and intriguing evidence.
(Tim Neward

, Financial Times) 'In this excellent and wide-ranging book, Forbes makes the hidden histories of science recognisable.
(Leena Lindstrom

, Nature)

About the Author

Peter Forbes was the editor of Poetry Review, Britain's most prestigious poetry magazine, for 16 years. He is a regular contributor to the broadsheets, including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times, as well as in a wide spectrum of magazines, including New Scientist, New Statesman and Country Life. In 1999 he edited Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Poetry (Viking) and in 2002 Penguin published the paperback of his translation of Primo Levi's The Search for Roots.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th August 2011


Peter Forbes

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Yale University Press


304 pages


Developmental biology
Animal behaviour



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