With September comes the much-anticipated transition to autumn…and a return to a historical novel as our featured title. Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Heartland* by Jeffrey A. Lockwood is “an entomological thriller” and is, in fact, written by an entomologist. Here’s a quick summary of the book:
Throughout the nineteenth century, swarms of locusts regularly swept across the continent, turning noon into dusk, demolishing farm communities, and bringing trains to a halt as the crushed bodies of insects greased the rails. In 1876, the U.S. Congress declared the locust “the single greatest impediment to the settlement of the country.” From the Dakotas to Texas, from California to Iowa, the swarms pushed thousands of settlers to the brink of starvation, prompting the federal government to enlist some of the greatest scientific minds of the day and thereby jumpstarting the fledgling science of entomology. Over the next few decades, the Rocky Mountain locust suddenly–and mysteriously–vanished. A century later, Jeffrey Lockwood set out to discover why. Unconvinced by the reigning theories, he searched for new evidence in musty books, crumbling maps, and crevassed glaciers, eventually piecing together the elusive answer: A group of early settlers unwittingly destroyed the locust’s sanctuaries just as the insect was experiencing a natural population crash. Drawing on historical accounts and modern science, Locust brings to life the cultural, economic, and political forces at work in America in the late-nineteenth century, even as it solves one of the greatest ecological mysteries of our time.
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Here’s what you need to do this month:
Get the book. Buy it, borrow it, download and listen to it, read it over your neighbor’s shoulder — we don’t care. But don’t steal the book.
Read the book.
- Week 1: AgBookClub will be taking a break from our weekly chat this week (NO Twitter chat on 9/1)
- Week 2: Introduction and Chapters 1-4 – pages 1-64 (Twitter chat on 9/8)
- Week 3: Chapters 5-8 – pages 65-138 (Twitter chat on 9/15)
- Week 4: Chapters 9-11 – pages 139-208 (Twitter chat on 9/22)
- Week 5: Chapters 12-14 – pages 209-262 (Twitter chat on 9/29)
Join the chat (#AgBookClub) on Wednesdays at 8:00pm Central on Twitter. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat here. While we hope you can participate in our discussion every week, we know that everyone has busy schedules. We always include general questions following the topic(s) of the book that can be answered by anyone, so please don’t hesitate to jump in the Twitter chat if you didn’t have a chance to read the section we’re discussing. We welcome any and all to join the discussion!