Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War by Jeffrey A Lockwood - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh

Battle Bugs

Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War

By

Oxford University Press 377pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

Six-legged Soldiers is the work of a familiar two-legged species: the jaunty scientist with a scary story to tell. Jeffrey A Lockwood is an entomologist and teacher of creative writing in Wyoming. His book is breezily written, although hardly as ‘gripping’ as the various blurbs by fellow entomologists optimistically aver. Few books require the equivalent of health warnings. However, this one may make readers itchy, with its graphic descriptions of lice replicating in the seams of clothes, and it is not good bedtime reading either, since even without a stiff drink they may well dream of ants and spiders scurrying up and down walls.

Lockwood uses none other than the God of Exodus for his first, crucial, sleight of hand, which is to conflate natural phenomena, such as plagues of frogs or swarms of locusts, with the more restricted matter of human beings deliberately using insects to wage warfare. 

Evidence for

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter