The Birds and the 'flies

The new imprint, ABC or Aleph Book Company has two remarkable books in the area of natural history. All their titles are unusual and inviting, but this is about the two exceptional books on birds and butterflies...

Butterflies on the Roof of the World is a memoir by the lepidopterist, Peter Smetacek, an authority on Indian butterflies and moths. Peter has published sixty papers on them and has described a dozen new to science- indeed, he has pioneered the use of lepidoptera as indicators of climate change

In this book, Peter Smetacek invites us into the fascinating world of butterflies. We accompany him on expeditions deep into the mountains of the Himalayas, high desert landscapes of Ladakh,leopard and bear-infested forests of Kumaon, scenic meadows of Garhwal, and all manner of other habitats, as he attempts to capture rare and interesting species an all-black butterfly that hasn't been spotted for over a century, drunken moths that behave no differently from their human counterparts when they are tipsy, high-elevation butterflies that sail over mountain peaks,and caterpillars that are worth more than their weight in gold. Along the way, in prose that is lucid, witty and always entertaining, he illuminates for the reader the mysterious world of the elusive insects he has spent a life time with, and explain why the well-being of butterflies is of vital importance to us all.

Butterflies on the Roof of the World opens up for the lay reader the magical world of butterflies found in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the Himalayas. A heartwarming memoir that brings together autobiography and natural history, the book is also a riveting travelogue that contains many remarkable episodes where the author travels to untouched landscapes in search of rare butterflies and moths. Featuring many interesting anecdotes from the author's family history, which include the authors fathers escape from Nazi Germany to his family settling down in India, the understated yet beautiful prose will draw butterfly as well as nature lovers of all stripes to this book.

In our Biography and Natural History sections, in hardcover, Rs 495, 224 pages. ISBN: 9789382277057

Of Birds and Birdsong is a book of sublime portraits of over 100 species of Indian birds by the finest nature writer in the land. M Krishnan (1912-1996) the well-known naturalist and wildlife photographer used to write the newspaper column  ‘Country Notebook’ that appeared in The Statesman without a break for 46 years. In what has obviously been a labour of love, Shanti and Ashish Chandola have put together a selection of Krishnan’s writings on birds during this period. Brought out on Krishnan's birth centenary, Of Birds and Birdsong will be as welcome as birdsong's lilt to many – to the birdwatcher laden with field guides and binoculars, the bird photographer lugging a tripod and heavy lens, the nature lover and the connoisseur of natural history.
Also in our Natural History section, in hardcover, Rs 595, 328 pages. ISBN: 9788192328065