Dazzled and Deceived
Peter Forbes

Dazzled and Deceived

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.

Book Details:

  • Author: Peter Forbes
  • Published Year: 2009
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Yale University Press
    • Korea: Kachi
Peter Forbes

Peter Forbes

Peter Forbes initially trained as a chemist and worked in pharmaceutical and popular natural history publishing, whilst writing poems, and articles for magazines such as New Scientist and World Medicine. A stint as Southern Arts Writer-in-Residence (1984-6) led to the editorship of the Poetry Society's Poetry Review, Britain's premier poetry magazine, where he nurtured very many young poets in the early stages of their career, including Glyn Maxwell, Sophie Hannah, Gwyneth Lewis and Don Paterson.He has written numerous articles and reviews, many specializing in the relation between the arts...
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Book Reviews

  • "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 Darwin 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
  • "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 – as Darwin understood, there never has been any such thing, it's all expendable – but in life's multiple choices, chances and smallscale experiments: so many possibilities.                                                "
    Veronica Horwell, The Guardian
  • "This traffic in ideas, from biology through art to warfare, provides Peter Forbes's Dazzled and Deceived with an intriguing and fluent narrative.                                                                                                                               "
    Marek Kohn, The Independent
  • "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 . . . Forbes presents an authoritative account of research into mimicry and brings it bang up to date.      "
    Gail Vines, New Scientist
  • "This may well be the only book on evolution that we will ever review on this site, and it’s a good one … a fascinating story of scientific discovery and controversy, coming right up to the present day. Forbes does a very good job of explaining some very complicated theories, and has produced a classic work of popular science."
  • "Forbes tells brilliantly this exciting and colourful story with good anecdotes, bizarre characters and intriguing evidence."
    Financial TImes
  • "In this excellent and wide-ranging book, Forbes makes the hidden histories of science recognizable."
  • "Forbes tells brilliantly this exciting and colourful story with good anecdotes, bizarre characters and intriguing evidence."
    Military Illustrated
  • "  This enthusiastic study of “mimicry and camourflage” ranges between art, science and war to illuminate evolutionary wonders and the role of mimicry in human creativity."
    Sunday Telegraph
  • "...the fascinating story of mimicry and camouflage in science, art and the natural world, Peter Forbes’s scintillating book Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage."
    The Times
  • "...as Forbes shows in his remarkable book (winner of the 2011 Warwick prize for writing), mimicry is not just “a fantastical tale of visual punning in nature”. He traces the study of camouflage and mimicry in nature from those 19th-century beginnings to contemporary research. But he does not overlook the more general fascination with this non-verbal form of trickery. His account of 20th-century military camouflage, and of the unexpected role of Cubism, makes this a broad cultural history."
  • "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