Books : reviews

Natalie Angier.
The Beauty of the Beastly: new views on the nature of life.
Abacus. 1995

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 31 December 2021

Cockroaches, spiders, parasites, worms, rattlesnakes, hyenas and scorpions are not, for most people, paragons of beauty in the natural world, and most people would rather they did not exist at all. But Natalie Angier, one of America’s foremost science writers, believes the attraction of nature lies in the details, diversity and infinite possibility of the animal kingdom, where the ‘beasts’ can be beautiful and the ‘beauties’ beastly. In The Beauty of the Beastly, dung beetles are revealed as peerless environmentalists and dolphins as mean-spirited creatures who slash each other’s flesh.

Bringing together in one compelling narrative a series of fascinating and beautifully written essays, Natalie Angier vividly conveys the discoveries of contemporary biological science in a heartfelt plea for the preservation of nature on its own terms.

This book is a collection of short essays (each four to five pages long) on a wide range of natural science topics, originally published in the New York Times in the early 1990s. Some of the more biochemical and genetic essays are now out of date, but the ones about animals, scientists, and more philosophical topics are still relevant, and all are beautifully written.

Natalie Angier.
The Canon: the beautiful basics of science.
Abacus. 2007