My father’s first book, Of Peaches and Maggots: The Story of Queensland Fruit Fly was written while I was growing up so my viewpoint may be subjectively coloured. Nevertheless, my friends who have read it found it to be a fascinating book (as did I).
The story is not a simple entomological treatise on the subject – Queensland fruit fly – but an investigation of the farmers, government officials and scientists who have had to deal with the fruit fly, their varied responses, and ultimately, the author’s own investigations.
Colonial and agricultural history are involved. Scientific history and biography are involved. Some of the author’s autobiography is interpolated, as he is an actor in the story as well as its historian. And of course, there is inevitably entomology, although you can probably skip that if you find it uninteresting.
The conclusions and implications point to a particular interpretation or re-interpretation of Darwinian evolution; they point to the impacts of a foreign horticulture and colonial mentality on a new continent; and if (unlike me) you don’t know in advance what is the crucial discovery that explains the fly’s resilience as a pest, there is an element of a scientific mystery story here.