Basics: 2009, 535 pages, softcover, 850+ color photos of all 348 species in western US and Canada, range maps
This is an exceptional book for any dragonfly enthusiast with a focus on identification. This is the most complete and best quality of any related book available.
As noted in the title, the "West" refers to all species found in (a) Alaska, (b) Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Nunavut and all provinces west, and (c) N/S Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and all other states west. This region encompasses 348 species, all of which are shown in this book.
All photographs are in color and of very good quality and size. All but 4 or 5 of the species are shown with at least 2 photos. Many species have 3 or 4 photographs. The photos show differences between male and female, adult and immature, and variations due to pruinose and heteromorphs. These photographs will be very helpful with the identification of most odonata you encounter - except for those frustratingly similar species. This is where the detailed text will be very informative and useful.
The text, ranging from ½ to a full page for each species, consists of 6 distinct sections. The bulk of the material is found in Description, Identification, and Natural History. A single, yet potent, sentence is given to each of the other three sections of Habitat, Flight Season, and Distribution.
The identification section does a good job of comparing similar species, giving pointers of how to differentiate between the finer points. The description of each can often be very detailed, which might be a bit too detailed for the novice or a person with a passing interest to know what to call that dragonfly flitting around the garden. To truly identify down to the species level, the book often describes the individual with terms of lateral thoracic stripes, postocular spots, abdomen black above S2-7, and other necessary "scientific" descriptors.
Expanding on this detail are wonderful drawings of the abdominal tips and appendages, which are sometimes the only means for identification.
The book has other brief sections on research, collecting, naming, anatomical labels (to help with terms in the identification section), and natural history.
Lastly, a distribution map is supplied for each individual. Where relevant, the maps zoom in to the restricted ranges for many of the species. The boundaries for the states and provinces are shown, which help with better detail.
This is, by far, the best odonate book available for the US. I certainly hope an eastern companion will follow in the near future.
I've listed several related books below...
1) Common Dragonflies of the Southwest by Biggs
2) Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) of Texas, Volume I by Abbott
3) Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States by Abbott
4) Dragonflies and Damselflies of California by Manolis
5) Dragonflies & Damselflies of the Border Southwest by Behrstock
6) Dragonflies of Alaska by Hudson
7) Dragonflies through Binoculars by Dunkle
8) Dragonflies And Damselflies of Georgia And the Southeast by Beaton
(written by Soleglad at Avian Review or Avian Books, May 2009)