Beginning with Carl Stephenson's classic short story ""Leiningen Versus the Ants"" is a sure way to arouse interest in army...

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TALES OF THE WARRIOR ANTS

Beginning with Carl Stephenson's classic short story ""Leiningen Versus the Ants"" is a sure way to arouse interest in army ants, the blind predators of Africa, Asia and South America before whose marching columns ""all creatures flee."" Brown follows the story with excerpts and summaries from the first hand accounts of 18th, 19th and early 20th-century explorers and naturalists -- including Livingston, Stanley and Dr. Schweitzer -- whose experiences rival Leiningen's in drama and horror. Twelve chapters of such reports do however seem excessive, especially when followed by less than six pages on ""modern science and the warrior ant."" Even this ends sensationally when a discussion of the ants' chemical communication by odor turns into a suggest!on that their scent messages might include ""the most complex ideas that are communicated by human beings."" And though he refers to the work of ""leading researcher"" Schneirla, he tells us nothing about the ants' behavior when not marching, their social organization, reproduction, or life cycle -- even though it is the developmental stages of the young that cue that ""rhythmic pattern of life"" which as Schneirla discovered make nomads of whole colonies at what Brown merely describes as ""certain times."" The absence of a bibliography or of any illustrations are further handicaps. This approach is unfortunate since the subject has its own fascination, the opening story is worth encountering anywhere, and the personal narratives Brown chooses to focus on would have made a rousing prelude to a survey of more controlled and systematic studies.

Pub Date: March 15, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1973