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From the pages of 'The British Tarantula Society Journal'

The Book of the Spider

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 the book.

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.

Copyright 'The British Tarantula Society', 1996,1997

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