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Anthill: A Novel Roughcut – Mar 30 2010

4 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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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: 15.2 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #284,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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. — Publishers Weekly

One part of Anthill, 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. — The Economist

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. — Margaret Atwood (New York Review of Books)

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. — Harvey Freedenberg (Shelf Awareness)

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. — Donna Seaman (Chicago Tribune)

The astute, knowledgeable, amazing structure of Anthill is a masterpiece of craft, a fictional embodiment of the ant. — Sue Brannon Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama (Alabama Press-Register)

[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. — The Daily Beast

A triumphant epic of life by the world’s greatest naturalist. This is War and Peace—among the ants, the land developers, and the environmentalists and preachers. Marvel at E. O. Wilson’s wondrous and captivating creation. — Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute

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, The Meaning of Human Existence, 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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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