Tag Archives: book review

Maria Popova reviews ‘A Sting in the Tale’ by Dave Goulson


Maria Popova, who produces the wonderful and stimulating BrainPickings.org website, has written a lengthy review of Dave Goulson’s book, A Sting in the Tale.stinginthetale_glouson

The review is titled, A Brief History of How Bees Sexed Up Earth and Gave Flowers Their Colors, and subtitled, How a striped, winged, six-legged love machine sparked “the longest marketing campaign in history,” which should be enough to peak your interest.

Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Indeed, central to Goulson’s message is a bittersweet lament that bees are incredibly vulnerable to the general extinction epidemic of our era, as species are going extinct at anywhere between 100 and 1,000 times the natural rate due to habitat destruction, largely of our own doing. Scientists estimate that one species goes extinct every twenty minutes. There has never been a more urgent time to pay heed to E.O. Wilson’s admonition, for if bees once gave our planet its glorious colors and vibrant plant life, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to envision what would happen if they were to disappear.But despite the urgency of the conservation message, A Sting in the Tale is ultimately an optimistic book, written with profound love and respect for the creatures that gave Earth its colors and us our vitality. Complement it with Jon Mooallem’s heartbreaking and heartening, immeasurably moving Wild Ones. (quoted material)

This sounds like one of those books that beekeepers should buy, read and give to their book-reading friends.


Key words: Maria Popova, BrainPickings.org, book review, Dave Goulson, A Sting in the Tale, A Brief History of How Bees Sexed Up Earth and Gave Flowers Their Colors, sex and plants, bees, E.O. Wilson, species extinction, books about bees

Jonathan Swift, writer ‘to the vulgar’


Jonathan Swift from an 1850 illustration

Jonathan Swift from an 1850 illustration

John Simon, in a recent review of JONATHAN SWIFT: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch, says this about Swift, a cleric and most famously the author of Gulliver’s Travels:

His aim in writing as in sermons was to be “understood by the meanest.” Thus he would read his writings aloud to his servants, and when they didn’t understand, rewrite until they did: “I write to the vulgar, more than to the learned.” (quoted from the review)

That’s what we try to teach our journalism students: to write to be “understood by the meanest.” And would that they would rewrite their work until that happens.

The review, A Giant Among Men, ‘Jonathan Swift,’ by Leo Damrosch, appears in the New York Times book review section.


The review gives us another quote from Swift that I particularly like: “We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”