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Anthill: A Novel Roughcut – Mar 30 2010

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Product Details

  • Roughcut: 336 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton (March 30 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393071197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393071191
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #385,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Starred Review. A foremost authority on ants, an eloquent environmentalist, and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his exceptional nonfiction, Wilson has written a debut novel of astonishing dimension, acuity, and spirit.... With lyrical exactitude, empathy for all life, and a shocking conclusion, Wilson's wise, provocative novel of the interaction between humankind and the rest of nature expresses a resonant earth ethic.”

“One part of , by the world’s leading myrmecologist, demonstrates that in Mr Wilson ants have found not only their Darwin but also their Homer.... The tale within a tale is an astonishing literary achievement; nobody but Mr Wilson could have written it, and those who read it will tread lightly in the forest, at least for a while.... his evocation of their ways is a more powerful tool for raising ecological awareness than any Disneyfication is likely to be.”

“Wilson’s foray into fiction allows him to write more expressively, psychologically, even spiritually about the great web of life, humankind included, and the irrefutable rules for ecological survival. ... A teacher as well as a scientist, Wilson uses the prism of fiction to cast new light on the grand unifying lesson of nature: all of us earthlings, all of life’s astonishing creations, thrive or fail together.”

“The savage conflicts between the Trailhead and Waterside colonies are as dramatic as any epic of Herodotus or Thucydides, histories Wilson evokes in his characterization of the tiny warriors as myrmidons and hoplites.”

“[A] beautifully written coming-of-age novel about a young boy in Alabama. The highly respected author and entomologist may be sneaking some science down the throats of self-respecting fiction readers everywhere with the tale of a boy-turned-environmental lawyer who tries to save wildlife, but we hardly mind.”

“Starred Review: Lush with organic details, Wilson’s keen eye for the natural world and his acumen for environmental science is on brilliant display in this multifaceted story about human life and its connection to nature.”

“If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be reincarnated as an ant, this is probably the best description available.”

“The astute, knowledgeable, amazing structure of is a masterpiece of craft, a fictional embodiment of the ant.”

“Despite the seriousness of the warning he means to convey, I believe Edward O. Wilson had a fine time writing his first novel. It shows in the exuberance of the prose, and in the inventiveness of the plot.... the reader will have a great time reading it. Certainly I did.”

“Melville gave us whales and obsessions, Orwell gave us pigs and politicians. Now Wilson suggests with winning conviction that in our own colonies, we proceed at our peril when we cast off mindful restraint in favor of unchecked growth.... carries the reader down the ant-hole to describe life from the ants' point of view. No writer could do this better, and Wilson's passion serves him best here. His language achieves poetic transcendence.”

“The South suddenly has a surprising new hero, and his name is Raff Cody....In Edward Wilson's remarkable voice, becomes an inspirational novel for us all.”

“A triumphant epic of life by the world’s greatest naturalist. This is —among the ants, the land developers, and the environmentalists and preachers. Marvel at E. O. Wilson’s wondrous and captivating creation.”

“If Edward O. Wilson were actually an ant, he'd be the warrior and the drone and the queen and everyone else too. will remind people of all of his gifts and introduce them to some new ones!”

About the Author

Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than twenty books, including The Creation, The Social Conquest of Earth, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Lawton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 19 2010
Format: Roughcut Verified Purchase
Although E.O. Wilson is a great naturalist and tells natural history stories wonderfully well, he is not as good an observer of human life, or at least not a great novelist. The central one-fifth or so of this book is a book-within-a-book called "The Anthill Chronicles" and tells the story of an anthill, in a form similar to a historical novel. Since Wilson is one of the world's most famous and talented scientists. It is well worth the price for this central story. On the other hand, the rest of the book is the story of a man who lives nearby, his love of the wilderness around his home and his career path in biology, law and business which revolves around his various efforts to save the wilderness from the developers. Perhaps the best part of this story is the picture of the U.S. South as a modern society, but it would appear to be through the eyes of only a casual observer, or Wilson's writing ability is better suited to nature writing. I'm still reading one of his more scholarly works "The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies", which really tells the story of anthills and other insect societies. Somewhat harder going, but much more rewarding. Think of "Anthill" as the quick summer beach read version; read it now and follow up with The Superorganism if you find the inner book more interesting than the human-interest "wrapper".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By r on March 7 2011
Format: Roughcut Verified Purchase
the novel has some advice for young people choosing a career and who want to help protect the environment. A section describes the anthill's history from the perspective of the queen and her extended self (the colony). after reading this no one will be able to carelessly step on an ant again. a sympathetic and reliable first person description of their amazing, hardworking and brilliantly evolved, lives. this is a great example of fiction with useful scientific knowledge as the result. a great work of science teaching because you will remember what it was like to be one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ronbc TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 14 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Edward O. Wilson is often described as “the world’s leading authority on ants.” His fascination with the “superorganism” of the anthill has brought him fame, but his attempts to explain human sociology in insect terms has also made him perhaps the most controversial life scientist of the last fifty years.

Now in his 80′s, Wilson has recently tried his hand at a novel. This seems somehow appropriate, since many of his critics have long maintained that his ideas about the application of insect social structures to human societies are, indeed, fiction.

I approached "Anthill" (2010) without much preconception. I don’t find Wilson’s ideas on social or group selection particularly alarming. He may even be right. We’ll see. So I had no presumptive reason to dislike a book that won several smaller fiction prizes.

As it turns out, I did like "Anthill" – but only the middle third of it.

Wilson divides his novel into three parts. In the first section, he recounts his pre-teen protagonist’s love of the wilderness and fascination with insects. He obviously draws on his own, very similar childhood for this part of the book, and to that extent it’s mildly interesting. However, other than several funny passages in which his human characters act a lot like ants, this first part of the book is pretty standard fare, as fiction goes. Competent, but not compelling.
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Well written and has a few unexpected plot twists. This could qualify as a nice light read for a road trip or on your coffee breaks.
But it's also a view into the mind of one of America's great biologists- a must-read for fans of Wilson, or for those aiming to become biologists and their loved ones.
It makes a great present for a youth (I could have handled this by about age ten, and yet found it perfectly satisfying at 38 too) between the vividly described scenery, the interpersonal drama, and mostly because of all the ethical questions involved. Things like compromise, not judging strangers based on assumptions, being loyal to your past and sticking determinedly to your plan, while still being flexible enough to adapt when appropriate, taking time for new adventures and old traditions, the strength one gains from being alone with Nature, the satisfaction of bravely standing up for what's right against powerful people... there are a million good messages in this book. The main message of course is that we need to make conservation a priority.
It's not up there with the great classic novels. It isn't the sort of book you read over and over, with delightful phrases you want to underline and quote. It's a very good read and I am glad I bought it! But it's more a story than a literary work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 10 2011
Format: Roughcut
What really sets this book apart is the middle section detailing the rise and fall of ant "civilizations" from the perspective of the ants. The rest of the story is ok and certainly quite bearable, but its the ants you remember afterward, surely by design. If that doesn't interest you, likely the human story won't either.
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