Butterfly People by William R. Leach

Butterfly People

With 32 pages of full-color inserts and black-and-white illustrations throughout.From one of our most highly regarded historians, here is an original and engrossing chronicle of nineteenth-century America’s infatuation with butterflies, and the story of the naturalists who unveiled the mysteries of their existence. A product of William Leach’s lifelong love of butterflies, this engaging and elegantly illustrated history shows how Americans f...

Details Butterfly People

TitleButterfly People
Release DateApr 9th, 2013
GenreNonfiction, Environment, Nature, Science, History, Biology

Reviews Butterfly People

  • Joshua Buhs
    Tremendous.Even as there are parts I wrestle with, or think are wrong or unstated. This is an achievement, a work of history and a meditation upon the state of our world--a world that made certain choices during the historical epoch surveyed here, foreclosing other, perhaps more humane, opportunities. Amazing to get all of that out of a story of a handful of nineteenth-century Americans who loved butterflies. But there it is: part of the achievem...
  • David
    This is a lovely volume, very well designed and illustrated, with a winning dustjacket. If one is interested in the strong mid- and late-19th century widespread interest in collecting and describing American butterflies, then this is absorbing. As the title appropriately states, the book is about "Butterfly People" and only incidentally about the butterflies. It is an in-depth study of the people who contributed in major ways and in full depth to...
  • Brent
    Very, very interesting. So much I didn't know about the early history of lepidoptera. I had NO idea what a scoundrel and vicious capitalist William Holland was. I'm ashamed to own one of his books, even though it's falling apart. Naturally, this made me want to read lots of other books that I didn't even know about. I remember when I was a child and certain species, Diana Fritillary, Zebra Swallowtail, Regal Moths were rare. I have never seen ano...
  • Kevin McAllister
    Not many will disagree that appearance wise, butterflies are amongst the most beautiful creatures on the planet. But unfortunately, what becomes clear in this book is just how ugly we, as a species can be. I was captivated by the cover of this book and read it hoping to gain a further appreciation for butterflies than I already had. And while I did learn some fascinating facts and and gained some interesting new insights about butterflies, for th...
  • Doug Mccallum
    Not quite a 4. This is not a book about butterflies but primarily the 19th Century collectors/naturalists who documented them. They were human; sometimes generous, sometimes petty (or worse), but they collected and wrote about butterflies and moths. Some were artists while others employed artists. The first part was primarily about William Henry Edwards who wrote a beautiful set of books with exquisite color illustrations by Mary Peart. Others ar...
  • Deb
    Good book and loved the drawings of butterflies! Highly recommend if you love butterflies and history.
  • Jessica
    I found this book to be tremendous in its meticulous research and diligence to the butterfly people portrayed. The book was very heavily scientific, which was, once again, a miscalculation of mine. I thought, going in, the book would have a more sociological slant. Now, for the reason the book only gets 3 stars. Dr. William Barnes. In the book, he is mentioned twice, as "the rich physician." In reality, he founded Decatur Memorial Hospital and up...
  • Dawn
    I finished it! Finally. This book contains lots of history about the early American Naturalists and butterfly lovers, but is written in a less than interesting way. I had to put it down numerous times, because it just got too boring. It does mention many of the first butterfly field guides by name that would be fun to find.
  • James F
    A biographically oriented history of nineteenth century American lepidopterists. The book begins with the early lives of some "Yankees", especially William Henry Edwards and Samuel Scudder; then some German immigrants, especially Herman Strecker and Augustus Grote. More figures appear in the middle of the book, which also gives much more information on their activities and on the science of the native American butterflies and moths. The second ha...
  • Heidi Hess
    I love the passion of these 19th men and women for butterflies! It was on the point of obsession. I think a quote sums up my take-away from this book: "Today, photographs of butterflies - and of other natural forms - have become so seductive as to sometime serve as substitutes for the real things, interrupting or even blocking contact with the living natural world, a counter-world against which the real one is measured or ignored. In the nineteen...
  • Pam De
    Wonderful scholarship & well written--even for the non-scientific reader. William Leach gives us all an enticing view of those who loved butterflies and willingly gave time, intellect, energy, and resources to develop their passion. A fun way to learn about the development of science & scientific theory. This books is a must for anyone who is intrigued by the natural world (and who isn't?) and butterflies in particular.
  • Joe
    A deep eulogy for 19th century naturalists, showing what they learned, why they did it, and what America lost while industrializing from coast to coast. The story starts with serious scientists giddy as children when they encounter the beautiful butterfly specimens throughout America. It ends with one of the last naturalists, deaf in old age, too distracted by the natural beauty around him to realize that he's standing on train tracks and about t...
  • Kim
    Lyrical! The author does a great job in telling the story of those who were great butterfly collectors and researchers in the 1800's and early 1900's. William Hall comes out as a bad person while Will Doughtery was a tragic figure who sold his soul for dollars to make Holland and others rich. Great information and a great read!
  • Washington Post
    In “Butterfly People,” Leach analyzes our relationship with the natural world from a historian’s perspective, by looking at 19th-century Americans who devoted their lives to the study of some of world’s most gorgeous insects. His book is impeccably researched, with an astonishing level of detail about these butterfly-obsessed men (and in rare cases, women). Read the review: http://wapo.st/16EsCPr
  • Melissa Mcmasters
    The subject matter of this book was interesting, but it was written in a very dry style that made it hard to get through. I might have preferred it as a long-form journal article with some of the fat trimmed out.
  • Christel Devlin
    I kept reading, hoping I would get to the part where the book got interesting. When I realized it was going to feel like work every time I read it, I stopped reading. Too bad, what a fascinating subject.
  • Jonna Higgins-Freese
    I've been attracted to the cover in bookstores for years, but the style was so deadly dry I couldn't continue -- and I like history from obscure angles, and the history of science.