- This event has passed.
- September 18, 2020
- Event Category:
- Author Events
presenting The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World
in conversation with CHARLES C. MANN
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Science Library welcome EDWARD D. MELILLO—professor of history and environmental studies at Amherst College and author of Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection—for a discussion of his latest book, The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World. He will be joined in conversation by science writer CHARLES C. MANN, author of The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Conflicting Visions of the Future of Our Planet.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of The Butterfly Effect on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About The Butterfly Effect
Insects might make us shudder in disgust, but they are also responsible for many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives. When we bite into a shiny apple, listen to the resonant notes of a violin, get dressed, receive a dental implant, or get a manicure, we are the beneficiaries of a vast army of insects. Try as we might to replicate their raw material (silk, shellac, and cochineal, for instance), our artificial substitutes have proven subpar at best, and at worst toxic, ensuring our interdependence with the insect world for the foreseeable future.
Drawing on research in laboratory science, agriculture, fashion, and international cuisine, Edward D. Melillo weaves a vibrant world history that illustrates the inextricable and fascinating bonds between humans and insects. Across time, we have not only coexisted with these creatures but have relied on them for, among other things, the key discoveries of modern medical science and the future of the world’s food supply. Without insects, entire sectors of global industry would grind to a halt and essential features of modern life would disappear. Here is a beguiling appreciation of the ways in which these creatures have altered—and continue to shape—the very framework of our existence.
Praise for The Butterfly Effect
“Hard to put down, The Butterfly Effect is a masterful revelation of our interwoven existence with the world of insects and far deeper than most would possibly imagine. Part humanist, historian and scientist, Edward Melillo writes with charm and depth. A must read for anyone with curiosity and interest in how the world works and how seriously our existence is intertwined.” —Thomas E. Lovejoy, co-author of Biodiversity and Climate Change
“It’s a buzzing, crawling, flapping planet. Edward Melillo, with great affection and respect, reminds us not to forget that we share the planet with an amazing menagerie of remarkable creatures, many of them six-legged. We would be wise to pay more attention!” —Bill McKibben, author Oil and Honey
“Insects turn up everywhere, including throughout human history. Lively and engrossing, Edward Melillo’s The Butterfly Effect shows that bugs matter every bit as much as generals and emperors.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction