The World's Most Beautiful Seashells

by Leonard Hill and Pete Carmichael. 246 pp., 462 colored plates. Carmichael Publications, Tampa, FL. Hardback $29.95; softcover $22.95. ISBN 1-884942-00-8.
Without question the stunning photographs of the 460 species in this beautiful coffee-table book are the best yet offered to today's growing legion of shell-lovers. No conchologist, whether professional or amateur, will fail to enjoy this portfolio of exquisite presentations of what, indeed, should be called "The World's Most Beautiful Seashells." Each photograph by Pete Carmichael is a well-balanced portrait with several views of each rare or well-known shell familiar to most connoisseurs of shells.

Three hundred and seventy marine gastropods, 68 attractive bivalves, and a sprinkling of 21 terrestrial tree snails take the reader through a parade of traditionally sought-after species. Quite naturally, dealer-purchased species dominate, with 33 devoted to the be-spined Thorny Oysters and brilliant scallops. Close-ups of the Tent Olive, the Cat's Tongue Thorny Oyster, Kiener's Delphinula, and the Purple-ringed Top Shell are worth many enjoyable moments of reflection upon the "miracle of mollusks."

The text by biologist Leonard Hill accompanying each illustrated species supplies interesting information. In all cases the accurate popular and scientific names are given. In many instances, however, no shell size is indicated, although the viewer with some knowledge of shells may assume that most pictures are life-size. Although it scarcely mars the otherwise correct identifications, the wrong use or absence of parentheses around the author-and-dates should not be relied upon. This is not meant to be a technical identification book, but an index would have been very useful.

When bad weather keeps you off the beach or when driving rain or snow is swirling about your abode, take this book in hand and relive your collecting fantasies of deepsea treasures. You will rekindle your love of nature and once again marvel at the exquisite creations that evolved on our planet for our enjoyment and protection.

--R. Tucker Abbott