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Journey to the Ants Paperback – 5 Sep 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (5 Sep 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674485262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674485266
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 20.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Beautifully written and illustrated...These fifteen chapters are a bustling but well-organized ant heap, full of wonders natural and intellectual. -- Philip Morrison Scientific American Everyone should read Journey to the Ants; it is a book to read right through; I have done so twice so far. It brings back the joy of science and restores the sense of wonder, it is truly food for thought. For me it is a beloved book that will stay at my bedside. -- James E. Lovelock Times Higher Education Supplement Holldobler and Wilson have carefully distilled more than 80 years of their combined personal research and thorough knowledge of the literature to produce a book that is both packed with ideas and information and a joy to read. The authors subtitled their book 'A Story of Scientific Exploration' and, like all good stories, it has a logical progression and sensible themes and is hard to put down. -- C. Ronald Carroll American Scientist

About the Author

Bert Holldobler is now Foundation Professor of Biology at Arizona State University; formerly Chair of Behavioral Physiology and Sociology at the Theodor Boveri Institute, University of Wurzburg. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German government. Until 1990, he was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University. Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Holldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
OUR PASSION IS ANTS, and our scientific discipline is myrmecology. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sally-Anne on 7 Sep 2005
Format: Paperback
Most people seem to think of ants only as pests, to be exterminated by whatever means possible. They undermine the root systems of our flowers and vegetables, farm aphids on our tomatoes, raid our kitchens and picnics and generally make a blooming nuisance of themselves. So it's refreshing to hear from a couple of their biggest fans. Wilson and Hölldobler present a whole different view of ants: ancient (they've been here for a 100 million years or more), fantastically well adapted to their various environments, ecologically indispensable, incredibly diverse (about 9,500 recorded species and probably that number again still undiscovered) and unbelievably interesting. There are army ants and honeypot ants, ants that take prisoners to use as slaves, ants that live as parasites on other ants, ants that cover themselves in muck to achieve an effective camouflage, ants with jaws like dangerous farm implements, ants that farm crops and ants that herd stock. They live underground, in mounds, in trees, in logs, in my pantry - you name it. There are all sorts of different domestic arrangements in different ant species - some have multiple queens for example (and occasional civil wars) but, in general, the queen is the head and the heart of the colony. Without the queen the colony is dead - even if the poor little workers are still moving around. That's why an ant colony is regarded as a superorganism. No ant is an island. When did you ever see just one at your picnic?
This book is as easy to read as any novel and more interesting than most. The authors' delight and enthusiasm shines through and infects the reader. I challenge anyone to read this book and not end up feeling some degree of respect, even affection, for the little critters.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is easy to read. Could easily be used by elementary, middle school, and secondary school teachers to prepare a number of interesting lessons and scientific projects. Not only can insects (ants in particular, of course) but society, community, non-linguistic communication, evolution, and putting the universe into a size perspective provides many areas for class discussion. "Ants are oblivious to human existence." An incredible statement that will spark great conversation. Ants do not even know we are here! And they wont miss us when we are gone. After we have destroyed our natural habitat, they will continue to live in their microwildernesses. Text also provides a brief chapter on how to collect and observe ants and ant colonies. I am a language teacher but found reading this text simple and interesting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 11 Aug 2005
Format: Paperback
There are only a few writers who truly capture the natural world's complex structure, presenting it in a readable manner. Edward Wilson is one of these. Here, he's joined by Bert Holldobler in picturing one of our world's more enigmatic creatures - the ants. This book is a joy to read, whether you seriously study evolution or simply want a grander picture of life's mysteries. This book is a collector's item in reviewing what is known about ants and calling on students to consider how much remains to be studied.
The ants are one of the dominant forms of life on this planet. They've spread to nearly every environmental niche, adapting their habits and colony structure successfully. Wilson and Holldobler willingly convey their awe at this variety to anyone wishing to share it. Among the amazing accounts they relate, perhaps two stand out. The finding of the earliest known fossil specimens by a New Jersey family, and the night-foraging ants of Australia. Holldobler and Wilson's journeys have taken them to remote sites around the planet. They have a fine sense of how to bring the reader into their camps and excursions, sharing their discoveries and their tribulations.
Along the way, we learn how ants form their colonies, breed, forage, make war and enslave or absorb their fellows or other creatures. "Ants all look the same to the naked eye" they state, then show what a fallacy it is to continue believing that outlook. Beginning as solitary ground wasps, the ants have become one of the most complex social creatures in life. Their colonies range from simple bivouacs to huge structures. They can remove tonnes of soil to build a nest or range over extensive territories, terrifying even people with waves of migrating insects.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 1998
Format: Paperback
I haven't enjoyed a book like this in a long time. I plan to re-read it soon. It leaves you boogled by the complexity that can be introduced by simple evolutionary rules. That fun part is that it is rooted in a reality that can be found on the sidewalks and in your back yard. I almost gave it a ten, but I wanted to leave myself some room to grow. It is a great book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
Journey to the Ants is a shorter version of the authors' monumental The Ants (1990), a 732-page tome aimed at professional biologists with a lot of technical language and a clear encyclopedic intent. This book, as Holldobler and Wilson explain in the Preface, is of "a more manageable length, with less technical language and with an admitted and unavoidable bias toward those topics and species on which we have personally worked."

It is a terrific book, lavishly illustrated with many color plates, line drawings, black and white drawings, photos, etc. Especially wonderful are the color prints of paintings by John D. Dawson showing ants in various activities. His style reminds me a bit of M.C. Esher. Also notable are the many photos taken by Holldobler and Wilson during their many travels and studies. They are born renowned experts on ants around the world.

The text is both informative and entertaining. Wilson in particular is a world class science writer as well as a great scientist, and his clarity of expression and enthusiasm show through. The chapters examine and illustrate how ants live in their colonies, how they hunt prey, tend aphid "cattle," cultivate fungi, raid other ant colonies; how they fight and how they reproduce. Other chapters focus on particular species, like army ants or leaf cutter ants, or "strange" ants. Still other chapters show how ants communicate especially through pheromones and touch. There is some theory on ant origins (about 100-120 million years ago) and their evolution and present distribution. I was particularly interested in and appalled by both the way some ants are parasites and how they themselves are exploited by parasites.
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