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Dazzled and Deceived

Winner of the 2011 Warwick Prize for Writing

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.

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.


"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 … but in life’s multiple choices, chances and smallscale experiments: so many possibilities." - Veronica Horwell, The Guardian

"Forbes tells brilliantly this exciting and colourful story with good anecdotes, bizarre characters and intriguing evidence." - Tim Newark, The Financial Times

"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. Starting in the 1850s in the Amazon rainforest, Forbes presents an authoritative account of research into mimicry and brings it bang up to date." - Gail Vines, New Scientist

Peter Forbes Buy