Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage
Dazzled and Deceived, which won the 2011 Warwick Prize for Writing. is now available as an ebook, priced £3.99.
Buy Dazzled and Deceived now at Amazon.co.uk: Click here to order
Peter Forbes discusses the book with the chair of the Warwick judges Michael Rosen
Dazzled and Deceived reviewed by Steven Vogel in American Scientist. Read here
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 learnt 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 colourful 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, a tinkerer, and that the thrill of it all is not in a stately grand design … but in life’s multiple choices, chances and smallscale experiments: so many possibilities."
- Veronica Horwell, The Guardian
"Forbes tells brilliantly this exciting and colourful story with good anecdotes, bizarre characters and intriguing evidence."
- Tim Newark, The Financial Times
"The natural armoury of deceptions as depicted in Dazzled and Deceived is astounding, and the history of research into the phenomenon is just as surprising. Starting in the 1850s in the Amazon rainforest, Forbes presents an authoritative account of research into mimciry and brings it bang up to date."
Gail Vines, New Scientist
"Dazzled and Deceived tells a fine story. It is a delight . . . I unhesitatingly recommend the book to both scientists and nonscientists."
- Steven Vogel, American Scientist
"An intriguing and fluent narrative."
- Marek Kohn, The Independent
“In this excellent and wide-ranging book Forbes makes the hidden histories of science recognizable.” - Leena Lindstrom, Nature
“Straddles the worlds of evolutionary biology, art, and military strategy with a world-class cast of characters, among them Charles Darwin, Pablo Picasso, Vladimir Nabokov, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.”
- Boston Globe
“There are other reasons for color and many of these are collected and discussed in a fascinating new book, Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage (Yale University Press) by English science writer Peter Forbes . . . Most fascinating is how the ornithologists and lepidopterists – the folk most interested in animal color – went to war.”
- Michael Ruse, The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In a revealing and entertaining review of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art, and war, journalist Peter Forbes explores a wide range of eye-fooling strategies, such as the one discovered by Thayer...Forbes rightly portrays camouflage and mimicry as examples of how natural selection can act in subtle and surprising ways. His book will open your eyes to aspects of the natural world that may have passed you by, unnoticed."
- Natural History Magazine
“Dazzled and Deceived is surely destined to become a classic. Peter Forbes has written a compelling and fascinating history of mimicry and camouflage; but, much more than that, he persuades us that mimicry is at the heart of the story of evolution. He has found an exciting and novel way of presenting this ever-intractable story, and raises important questions which the theory of evolution has hardly begun to answer.”
– Christopher Potter, author of You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe
“It is a long time since I read a book that gave me so much enjoyment and told me so much both about the animal world and about human ingenuity. This is a wonderful story, engagingly told.”
– Michael Ruse, author of Darwinism and its Discontents
"From the great battle of life in nature to the great battlefields of human conflict, mimicry is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in all warfare. In this fascinating synthesis of science, art and history, Peter Forbes chronicles the marvelous and ingenious devices that evolution has produced and humans have designed to deceive foes. Dazzled and Deceived is a delightful journey into our growing understanding of how life imitates art."
– Sean B. Carroll, author of Remarkable Creatures and The Making of the Fittest
Sample some topics here:
Bates, Darwin and Wallace
How to dazzle a ship
Sunshields and Cannibals
Butterflies and Babies