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Paul Hillyard is a leading authority on spiders and a former curator at London's Natural History Museum. His previous books include "Spiders" and "The Book of the Spider: From Arachnophobia to the Love of Spiders".
"Hillyard is a true spider devotee, and he cheerfully informs us that there is no escape from his subject... The Private Life of Spiders is a stroll through their largely hidden world, highlighting the most spectacular, unusual, and instructive of the eight-legged brethren. After a brief overview of spider evolution and biology, Hillyard launches into the meat of his subject-a sweeping overview of spider diversity, commencing with those species whose habits and bodies are the most primitive, and culminating with those paragons of arachnid evolution, the elegant orb-weavers."--Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books "Arachnophobes will want to stay far away from this lavishly illustrated introduction. Hillyard, a spider expert at the Natural History Museum in London, takes a gorgeous look at one of the most successful groups of animals. Spiders can be found almost anywhere and will eat almost anything they can catch. In conversational prose that engages the reader in the intricacies of spider ecology, Hillyard explains the two major spider lifestyles (those that actively hunt and those that spin webs), discusses silk production and all the uses spiders make of silk, mating and resulting young, venom, sociality, and spiders and humans... The more than 100 photographs are marvelous examples of close-up photography as the reader witnesses a tarantula molting, a bolas spider dangling its line of silk covered with sticky globules, and the face and large fangs of a wolf spider."--Nancy Bent, Booklist "A journey through the life of these often misunderstood and sometimes dangerous creatures... This is a fascinating book."--Joel Lerner, Washington Post "This beautifully illustrated book is written by a former curator at London's Natural History Museum. Hillyard is the author of several previous books on spiders, and he has traveled widely to photograph and collect material. The volume is well organized, and the style of writing is clear and concise."--M. J. O'Donnell, Choice "A glimpse behind the silk curtain at everyone's favorite creepy-crawlies. The book includes a guide to overcoming arachnophobia, although the photos might offer the safest vantage for a close-up of a tarantula."--USA Today "[The] stunning photographs are so vivid you can almost feel the spiders crawling on you."--Library Journal "[T]his is a fascinating and very well presented volume. A reader cannot help learning about and appreciating the interesting adaptations and behaviors of spiders. Even those who would rather just avoid spiders altogether will come away from this book with a new admiration."--Cate Hibbitt, American Biology Teacher "The bulk of the book deals with descriptions of the various kinds of spiders. Some spin webs and wait, some lurk in burrows or in camouflage, some prowl the sand. But there's more that makes this an interesting read. Hillyard discusses the irrationality of arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, how spiders are beneficial to all kinds of human endeavors--engineering, rice farming and beer brewing are mentioned--and why it's important to know more about spiders."--Tom Palmer, Lakeland Ledger "This colorful volume creeps and crawls with stunning (and sometimes creepy) close-up photos of some of the world's 100 different spider families and 40,000 individual species."--Angelyn N. Hutchinson, Deseret Morning News "[Hillyard's] new book features more than 100 stunning photographs in full color capturing the beauty and diversity of spiders. In addition, he covers spider anatomy, behavior, reproduction, social organization, hunting techniques and even web construction... Engaging and fascinating."--Tucson Citizen "Arachnofans, rejoice. Your species of choice is finally getting its due. This gorgeous book tells all about scruffy little spiders that spin messy, seemingly inefficient webs, proud orb spiders that sit smack in the middle of spectacular constructions, scary, hairy tarantulas and more. As someone who previously found spiders ho-hum, Paul Hillyard's book is an eye-opener. The photographs reveal the diversity of shapes, sizes and lifestyles of the world's 40,000 spider species. Hillyard is a former curator at London's Natural History Museum. Despite the impressive creatures on offer, my favourites are the tiny hunting spiders, many of which quietly live indoors waiting for mosquitoes or flies."--Leigh Dayton, The Australian