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Anthill: A Novel Roughcut – 27 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Roughcut: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (27 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393071197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393071191
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 797,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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." -- Donna Seaman "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." "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 "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 "[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." -- Nicholas Wade "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 "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 "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." -- Barbara Kingsolver "The South suddenly has a surprising new hero, and his name is Raff Cody...In Edward Wilson's remarkable voice, Anthill becomes an inspirational novel for us all." -- Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump "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 "If Edward O. Wilson were actually an ant, he'd be the warrior and the drone and the queen and everyone else too. Anthill will remind people of all of his gifts and introduce them to some new ones!" -- Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Molybdenum on 8 Aug. 2010
Format: Roughcut
I have long respected E O Wilson and was intrigued by his decision to write a novel. In many ways the novel is a decoy and the most intriguing parts are the factual stuff about nature and especially ants and it's made me want to read more of the Wilson catalogue. That said, elements of the plot are quite gripping, as are the parallels drawn with the human 'anthill'. The hero, Raff, is a kind of mutation to his family history whereby he doesn't become the corporate money-grubber he was destined to be but something better, and his intelligence, sensitivity and decency civilize the business culture. This happens rather more easily, it must be said, than real life would probably allow but as a prescription for a way life that respects the natural world, and has a conscience about destroying the environment needlessly, it's heart and head are both in the right places. It is also an interesting portrait of the culture of the South, the quirks of family trees, and the conflict between conservation and the more exotic shores of fundamentalist religion. An alternative title could have been: Property Development And The End of Days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Eldridge on 25 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Wilson's protagonist, Raf, grows up in a conservative southern family who wants him to become successful in business. He grows up as a child exploring a tract of wilderness that causes him to become fascinated with nature and as this tract is threatened his driving ambition becomes to somehow protect it. The plot revolves around how these potentially conflicting ambitions come together.

As another reviewer has mentioned, moving from fiction to non-fiction is probably not easy for a writer, but Wilson manages to make a really neat marriage of the two by juxtaposing ants and human society. Some of the most fascinating parts of the book are Wilson's descriptions of the anthills in the wilderness tract that Raf documents for his studies. The human plot of the story is captivating too though as we follow Raf's attempts to manage the conflicting interests and perspectives of his family, rapacious local businesses and the environmentalists trying to save the wilderness tract. A very enjoyable read, especially for those who love nature.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. J. Davison on 23 Aug. 2010
Format: Roughcut
In common with the previous reviewer, I am been a great admirer of Wilson and too was intrigued, if not a bit puzzled, by his publishing a novel.
Before reading it, I was a little wary of taking it too seriously as a literary work, but Wilson has made the transition from fiction to non-fiction easily and it reads very well. It is clear that much of the narrative derives from Wilson's own upbringing and personal philosophy, resulting in both an inspirational character and a fascinating portrait of the American South and its culture. Much of what is so endearing about the novel is born of Wilson's own character. This is easily appreciated by imagining if Richard Dawkins wrote a novel.
The plot centres around Raff, I suspect a semi-autobiographical character, who is a brillaint child naturalist with the good fortune to have his interest nurtured and encouraged by a professor from Florida State Uni (narrater). The novel follows him through all his growing up and education and his eventual involvement in saving the wilderness of his childhood. Without further revealing the plot, much of the novel's success derives from the personal experiences and an intimate knowledge of the places and culture by the author. I found it a real page-turner and read it in three days and, finding it a largely brilliant read.
However, Wilson still manages to educate the reader about ants. Some readers not interested in ants may find this a needless digression from the narrative, but I found it fascinating and an excellent way to learn natural history. A sizable chunk is taken up by a sub-plot featuring the ants and Wilson skilfully brings the reader right down to the their level and view of the world.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The writer manages to convey the very human emotion of biophilia, love of the natural world. It is one of our more neglected instincts. He does it without showing any of the ugly misanthropic tendencies so common amongst environmentalists. The type that deplore population and economic growth.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. O. Riehle on 28 Sept. 2010
Format: Roughcut
Incidentally I like the book, but not all of it -(see in depth description by the other reviewers about the content) it is very nice, until about the time that Raff or rather his thesis about the ants of the title are put to the reader after which it quickly deteriorates towards a quite unexpected, improbable, happy ending. Initially the landscape descriptions and the way in which the story is told reminded me of Earnest Hemmingways The Nick Adams Stories - it really is that gripping and evocative, but then it dragged on a bit and the ending implicit in the way the story is being told by Raff's mentor rather than himself and the hints at tragedy are never fulfilled. So a 5 for the beginning and the anthill storyline, then 3 for the rest = 4 overall.
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