Editor’s note: NAMA received two review copies of this book, so it seemed appropriate for us to prepare two independent reviews.
This 265 page hardcover 8.5″x11″ book is a visual feast that I keep on my coffee table and take to show off at lectures about fungi. The author, Jens H. Petersen, is a mycologist who has taught for over twenty years at Denmark’s Aarhus University and has collected fungi in many parts of the world. He is a photographer who has mastered photography from the macro scale to the micro scale. Each page of the book is dominated by splendid photography with text taking up at most about 1/8 of each page.
After the preface, the book begins with an introduction to the fungal life cycle (2 pages), a section on the diversity of fungal spores (4 pages), and illustrations of hyphae (6 pages). The author then discusses kinship and classification within the fungal kingdom (6 pages), delves into “the perfect imperfects” (10 pages), and explores the diversity of fruiting bodies (12 pages). The Ascomycota are covered in a 56 page segment followed by a 90 page segment on the Basidiomycota and 2 pages on the Zygomycota and other groups. Each section is beautifully illustrates the diversity of both macroscopic features and microscopic features of the fungi.
Fungal ecology is covered in a 26 page segment followed by a 34 page segment on “fungi in the world” that describes where fungi are found and why fungi are important. The closing 6 pages reveals how much re- mains to be learned and why it is important to protect fungi.
This book would make an excellent addition to the NAMA school teaching kit. The pictures will enthrall young children and the text is both easy to understand and informative. Even after decades of studying mycology, I discovered new material and interesting material. When agreeing to review the book, I thought that I would be reviewing a college textbook on the fungi. Indeed, I would have college mycology students buy the book as part of their course — the text will give them a succinct over-view of the fungal kingdom and the pictures will give them the visuals that are so lacking in their college textbooks. However, I will also want to introduce anyone from 6 years old to 100 to this book. It contains both sound science and visual humor. At $29.95, it is a bargain.
Review by Michael W. Beug.
This review was published in the July-August 2013 issue of The Mycophile.