Naturalist / Edition 1

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Overview

Recalling his life from a childhood exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama to a career as a Harvard professor, Pulitzer Prize-winner Wilson details how a boyhood enchantment with nature became a lifelong calling. He provides insight into the origin and development of the ideas that have shaped his biological research and defines the central principles of evolutionary biology.

Recalling his life from a childhood exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama to a career as a Harvard professor, Pulitzer Prize-winner Wilson details how a boyhood enchantment with nature became a lifelong calling. He provides insight into the origin and development of the ideas that have shaped his biological research and defines the central principles of evolutionary biology.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Books of the Century
A mixture of loneliness, amusement, curiosity and intellectual rigor makes the voice of this thoughtful man unforgettable.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Most children have a bug period,'' writes the author. ``I never grew out of mine.'' Winner of two Pulitzer prizes, pioneer in sociobiology, distinguished entomologist and teacher, Wilson has written an absorbing memoir that charts his development as a scientist. From the age of seven, he wanted to be a naturalist; an accident that left him blind in one eye determined his field, and he settled on ants. Wilson recounts with affection his student days at the University of Alabama. In 1951 he enrolled at Harvard to complete his Ph.D.; there he began to study the evolution of social ecology among animals. Memorable field trips-to Cuba, Central America, the South Pacific-led him into new disciplines biogeography and biodiversity. Noting that he has been ``blessed with brilliant enemies,'' he gives a lively account of academic infighting between molecular James Watson of DNA fame and evolutionary biologists during the 1960s. Wilson discusses his collaboration with Bert Hlldobler and the controversy that arose from the publication of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis in 1975. Wilson's memoir gives a rare glimpse into the evolution of scientific theory. 40,000 first printing. Oct.
Library Journal
Harvard biologist Wilson is one of the most important figures in 20th-century science. Fortuitously, this Pulitzer Prize winner is one of the most admirable characters in 20th-century letters as well. He writes with elegance, grace, and exquisite precision whether his subject is ants Wilson and Bert Hlldobler's The Ants, Belknap: Harvard Univ. Pr., 1990, was a surprise best seller, sociobiology, biodiversity, or, as here, his long and interesting life. While not as rhetorically flashy as works by biologist-writers like Stephen Jay Gould, Wilson's work is eminently accessible and delightful to consume, and this book is no exception: if he had never done anything but write about his early years on the Gulf Coast, he would still be a favorite of all who love writing that brims with clarity and warmth. This memoir, a fitting capstone to an extraordinary career, should inspire yet another generation of scientists to explore the natural world. Essential for science collections and a wise acquisition for everyone else. [See also Hlldobler and Wilson's Journey to the Ants, reviewed on p. 208; see profile on p. 210.-Ed.]-Mark L. Shelton, Athens, Ohio
Booknews
A memoir by one of the century's most influential and most controversial biologists. He recounts a childhood with unpleasantnesses that led him to spend hours a day away from other people, his early attraction to bugs, and his training and career. We also get his side of two major controversies: that between molecular and traditional biologists over the legitimacy of the evolutionary approach in the 1950s-60s, and sociobiology, the new discipline (pseudo-discipline according to opponents) he created in 1975. No bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
New York Times Books of the Century
A mixture of loneliness, amusement, curiosity and intellectual rigor makes the voice of this thoughtful man unforgettable.
The Bloomsbury Review

"Naturalist reads like a classic hero’s tale." —The Bloomsbury Review
Bloomsbury Review
"Naturalist reads like a classic hero's tale."
The USA Today
"In this exquisitely written memoir, the famed Harvard scientist looks back at his childhood in the South as well as his career as a groundbreaking thinker in the field of evolutionary biology. Truly, here is the irrefutable proof that scientists have souls."
Los Angeles Times
"[Naturalist] is one of the finest scientific memoirs ever written, by one of the finest scientists writing today."
Science
"Wilson is the grand master of lyrically analytic nature writing."
The Washington Post Book World
"What distinguishes Wilson's story is its handsome prose, honed by years of practice into a concise and sly discourse. Among literary scientists, no one since Rachel Carson has more effectively joined humble detail to a grand vision of life processes and structures."
The New York Review of Books - Jared Diamond
"Vividly, often beautifully written. Wilson emerges not only as a gifted scientist, but also as a likable, passionate, eloquent person."
The New York Times Book Review
"A wise personal memoir…. A mixture of loneliness, amusement, curiosity and intellectual rigor makes the voice of this thoughtful man unforgettable."~The New York Times Book Review "This memoir, a fitting capstone to an extraordinary career, should inspire yet another generation of scientists to explore the natural world."~Library Journal "Vividly, often beautifully written. Wilson emerges not only as a gifted scientist, but also as a likable, passionate, eloquent person."~Jared Diamond in The New York Review of Books"In this exquisitely written memoir, the famed Harvard scientist looks back at his childhood in the South as well as his career as a groundbreaking thinker in the field of evolutionary biology. Truly, here is the irrefutable proof that scientists have souls."~USA Today"Wilson is the grand master of lyrically analytic nature writing."~Science"Among literary scientists, no one since Rachel Carson has more effectively joined humble detail to a grand vision of life processes and structures."
From Barnes & Noble
Recalling his life from a childhood exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama to a career as a renowned professor at Harvard, Wilson details how a boyhood enchantment with nature became a life-long calling. "...nothing short of wondrous."-- Boston Globe. B&W photos & illus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597260886
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 420
  • Sales rank: 691,246
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor and curator of entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.

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