Naturalist [NOOK Book]

Overview

Edward O. Wilson -- University Professor at Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, eloquent champion of biodiversity -- is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His career represents both a blueprint and a challenge to those who seek to explore the frontiers of scientific understanding. Yet, until now, little has been told of his life and of the important events that have shaped his thought.In Naturalist, Wilson describes for the first time both his growth as a scientist and the ...
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Naturalist

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Overview

Edward O. Wilson -- University Professor at Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, eloquent champion of biodiversity -- is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His career represents both a blueprint and a challenge to those who seek to explore the frontiers of scientific understanding. Yet, until now, little has been told of his life and of the important events that have shaped his thought.In Naturalist, Wilson describes for the first time both his growth as a scientist and the evolution of the science he has helped define. He traces the trajectory of his life -- from a childhood spent exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to life as a tenured professor at Harvard -- detailing how his youthful fascination with nature blossomed into a lifelong calling. He recounts with drama and wit the adventures of his days as a student at the University of Alabama and his four decades at Harvard University, where he has achieved renown as both teacher and researcher.As the narrative of Wilson's life unfolds, the reader is treated to an inside look at the origin and development of ideas that guide today's biological research. Theories that are now widely accepted in the scientific world were once untested hypotheses emerging from one mans's broad-gauged studies. Throughout Naturalist, we see Wilson's mind and energies constantly striving to help establish many of the central principles of the field of evolutionary biology.The story of Wilson's life provides fascinating insights into the making of a scientist, and a valuable look at some of the most thought-provoking ideas of our time.

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
Donna Seaman
Wilson likes to think of himself as an explorer-naturalist, but he is known as one of the founders of the controversial field of sociobiology, an influential member of the biodiversity preservation movement, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Wilson's gift for translating the complexities of science, particularly evolution, into lucid and welcoming prose is evident in his earlier books, including "On Human Nature" and "The Diversity of Life", as well as in his newest autobiographical work. Here the process of natural selection takes on an enticingly personal form: Wilson's own evolution from a small, lonely, nature-loving boy into a world-class scientist. Wilson describes his boyhood raptures over the beauty and mystery of wildlife, how he came to study insects, and the foundation for his lifelong diligence and devotion to his ideals. Appreciative of both his supportive colleagues and "brilliant enemies," Wilson tells the stories behind his discoveries about ants and their chemical communication systems, his pioneering studies of island insect populations, and his visionary, hotly contested theories about the evolution of social behavior. Along the way, he also exposes some extreme examples of the politics of science, especially within the ivy-clad walls of Harvard. It's a privilege to learn about the man behind the scientist and the boy at the heart of the man. Now when we think of Wilson's achievements, we'll see him as a seven-year-old boy staring at a jellyfish in wonder and bliss.
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.
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 Bloomsbury Review

"Naturalist reads like a classic hero’s tale." —The Bloomsbury Review
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: 9781597269360
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 367,475
  • File size: 11 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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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Table of Contents


Prelude
 
PART I. Daybreak in Alabama
Chapter 1. Paradise Beach
Chapter 2. Send Us the Boy
Chapter 3. A Light in the Corner
Chapter 4. A Magic Kingdom
Chapter 5. To Do My Duty
Chapter 6. Alabama Dreaming
Chapter 7. The Hunters
Chapter 8. Good-Bye to the South
Chapter 9. Orizaba
 
PART II. Storyteller
Chapter 10. The South Pacific
Chapter 11. The Forms of Things Unknown
Chapter 12. The Molecular Wars
Chapter 13. Islands Are the Key
Chapter 14. The Florida Keys Experiment
Chapter 15. Ants
Chapter 16. Attaining Sociobiology
Chapter 17. The Sociobiology Controversy
Chapter 18. Biodiversity, Biophilia
 
Afterword
Acknowledgments
Index
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