the pages of 'The British Tarantula Society Journal'
The Book of the
by Paul Hillyard.
ISBN 0-09- 177631-7 Published by Hutchinson, Random
Century House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA.
Tel: 071 973 9680. Price: £16.99
The vast majority of
books on spiders, and particularly tarantulas, over the
last few years have essentially been reference works
which, when you encounter a particular problem or you
wish to identify a certain species of African theraphosid
you go to your bookshelf, read the necessary parts and
ultimately return it to its proper place once used. I
have to say that this is certainly how I use most of the
books in my collection. Occasionally, once I have bought
such a reference book I may even (assuming that I have
the time) take a quick glance through at the entire
contents to familiarise myself with the areas covered by
Once in a while, however, a book comes along that does
not follow this mould. Paul Hillyard's "The Book of
the Spider" is one such volume. I can honestly say
that once I started reading it I had great difficulty
putting it down again - it really was compulsive reading.
Written in a way that is easy to digest, and covering
such a vast array of spider-related topics that you will
never become bored. The book is also liberally
illustrated with fine colour photographs, the majority of
which have been taken by the author himself.
As mentioned, the book covers wide range of areas, from
Arachnophobia, Folklore, Myths and Literature (a chapter
I found particularly interesting), Venomous Spiders,
Eating and Fighting Spiders, Classification, Conservation
and several more besides.
How many of you knew, for example, that spider web is
currently being tested for use as a material for use in
bullet-proof vests? Reading about the arachnologists of
yester-year was also quite fascinating and essentially
gave an insight to the lives of those scientists who we
merely see after a spiders scientific name in a book. The
book rounds of nicely with a sound conclusion and an
extremely comprehensive Reference section.
The book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and the way it
has been written makes the information accessible to
arachnophiles and arachnophobes alike. Instead of buying
a spider at the next show, I would definitely recommend
that you get yourself a copy of this splendid book by
Paul Hillyard who, since 1974, has been in charge of the
Arachnology section at the British Museum of Natural
History in London.
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