by Edward O. Wilson


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The two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist delivers "an astonishing literary achievement" (Anthony Gottlieb, The Economist).

Winner of the 2010 Heartland Prize, Anthill follows the thrilling adventures of a modern-day Huck Finn, enthralled with the "strange, beautiful, and elegant" world of his native Nokobee County. But as developers begin to threaten the endangered marshlands around which he lives, the book’s hero decides to take decisive action. Edward O. Wilson—the world’s greatest living biologist—elegantly balances glimpses of science with the gripping saga of a boy determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: man himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393071191
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/05/2010
Pages: 381
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than thirty books, includingHalf-Earth,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 with his wife, Irene Wilson, in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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Anthill 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Purrmoon More than 1 year ago
Raff is a highly observant child growing up in poor rural Alabama. He spends a lot of time exploring a nearby swamp, observing and learning the local flora and fauna. He is fascinated by the anthills in one area of the swamp. As he grows up it becomes clear that Nokobee swamp seems destined to fall to developers and Raff feels the need to do something to save it. He becomes friends with local people( a naturalist, a journalist and a wealthy uncle) who can help him position himself to protect the swamp. The book follows his progress through high school, college and ultimately through Harvard Law School as he gains the knowledge and skills he will ultimately use in his effort to protect Nokobee. I learned more about ants from this book than from the sum of my prior reading. Raff skillfully uses his knowledge of ants to gain the support he needs to get a good education. The parallels between ant wars and people wars are not lost on the reader. Raff's character is well developed and the writing style is fluid as the slow currents of the swamp itself. The pace of the action accelerates toward the end of the book, as Raff is confronted by small minded people unappreciative of his efforts. Forced to run for his life he finds unexpected support deep in the swamp. What goes around comes around in surprising twists of fortune. A good read and characters you will not forget.
CamSea More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book thoroushly. Would recommend it highly.
Eliz12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a word: no.Boring. Dreadful characters. The only truly interesting part (the ants) seems just thrown in, as if to provide some validity for making this a "serious" work of fiction. If the words "homespun goodness" appeal to you, this is likely to be a book you'll like.Otherwise, stay far, far away.
NellieMc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is actually a hard book to comment on. Wilson has written numerous books on ants and I've found them fascinating -- if you do you'll enjoy this book. The middle section on the rise and fall of several ant colonies -- and one ant super colony -- is worth reading the book alone if you're interested, and for that he merits the third star. As a book of fiction, it's not terribly good. The characters are shallowly drawn and obviously mean to fit certain types (earnest environmentalist, crazy Christian fundamentalist, money-focused capitalist, shallow Southern belle) all of which allows him to basically preach a message. However, I was pleased ultimately with the message -- that environmentalism shouldn't be extreme -- there are ways to work things out so man and bug can live together, and that also earned it a third star. So I enjoyed reading it and don't regard it as time wasted. But Wilson should have written a fictional book all about the ants -- it would have been a lot more fun and worthy of being compared to Watership Down .
mojomomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is chock full of the natural history of southern Alabama piney wood environment as seen through the eyes of Raff Cody as he grows up from student to environmental lawyer. It seems obvious to me that the author is a professional biologist and not a novelist because the plot twists and "hooks" seem to be added as afterthoughts--the character "Frogman" is introduced in the first chapter and then we don't hear from him again until the last few pages. The controversy with the religious right pastor and his extreme reaction to Raff is not fully developed. I think the novel would have been better either leaving the Pastor out completely or giving him a much larger role. What we have now feels forced and contrived. That said, the portions of the book describing the area of Lake Nokobee are beautifully written and Raff is a sympathetic character that has you hoping he will persevere and come out on top.
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't read any of Wilson's previous books, which are all non-fiction. This is his first novel, although there is a major section in the middle that is a description of the workings of ant colonies, which is supposed to be the college Honor's Thesis of the book's protagonist, as edited by his professor. That part to me was the most interesting part of the book, and makes me want to read some of Wilson's other, scientific books. I found the fictional part of the book moderately enjoyable. Raff is a youngster who loves the woods near his home, and sneaks off there to observe the nature and learn as much as he can about it. We follow him as he grows up and goes off to college in Florida and Harvard Law School, where he studies to be an environmental lawyer. He then returns to the southern Alabama, Florida panhandle area to practice law. His plan is to save the wild area he loves from development. I found this part of the book to be very unrealistic, mostly from a legal perspective. I liked reading about the Southern culture and lifestyle, as well as the descriptions of the natural environment. There is a thriller aspect of the story that just seems tacked on at the end, which did not work for me.
tgford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An extremely slow moving book with excruciating detail about coastal Alabama wildlife habitats mixed throughout with a thinly veiled conservation message. Even though we are introduced to the main character Raff at an early age, his character never seems to develop fully. The first part of the book spends more time on Raff¿s parent¿s background and the history of the Mobile social hierarchy than the main character himself. The middle part of the book is an extremely detailed explanation of the life cycle of an ant colony. Finally the last part of the book begins to build some excitement but sadly it is too little, too late. If I hadn¿t been committed to writing this review, I would have put the book down after the first 100 pages.
txwildflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A coming of age story about a boy growing up on the Alabama coastline and his love for nature. The story bogs a little with too much detail about his thesis on ant colonies (you'll learn things you NEVER knew about a tiny ant!) but otherwise a good novel, especially if you're a fan of the South. It's a fast read and one you can enjoy on your front porch listening to the birds!
GCPLreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One thing is for sure-- E.O. Wilson knows his ants. Anthill contains an overly lengthy section told through the ants' point of view that was all science and quite interesting. But even that was too dry and I wish there was more metaphor and more lyrical writing like I remember in A.S. Byatt's fabulous Angels and Insects. The main story of Raff is poorly characterized. I wanted more of the "Huck Finn" type adventures, yet the book steered off into too much unnecessary family back story. Wilson missed the mark by not writing more of Raff's Boy Scouts participation, more at college, more of his personal life. The book's first and final suspenseful chapters serve as bookends and don't seem to fit at all with the novel. I do appreciate the author's message and the unmistakable love he has for his beautiful home state of Alabama, but with much regret, I cannot recommend this environmental tale.
Boobalack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Raphael Semmes Cody was the product of a mixed marriage. His mother, Marcia, was a Southern Lady in the strictest sense of the words and his father, Ainesley, was a blue-collar man and was barely respectable in the eyes of Marcia¿s parents. They offered no objection to the young couple¿s dating because they thought Ainesley was merely a fling before Marcia got serious about marrying and found a match from her own social class. They were not correct. He was also the product of the Deep South ¿ Mobile, Alabama and environs to be exact. You know, the area of our country where ¿Fred¿ is pronounced ¿Frey yed,¿ and many other one-syllable words somehow evolve into two syllables. I say this with a happy face, as I was born in Georgia and raised in various parts of the South.This story follows Raff, as he preferred to be called, from childhood to adulthood. He never seemed to fit into the macho-hunter image his father preferred and, instead, was more interested in nature for nature¿s sake and in learning about the area around Lake Nokobee, where his parents took him on frequent picnics. There he met Frederick Norville, a professor of ecology at Florida State University. Norville soon became a good friend and was called ¿Uncle Fred¿ by Raff. Raff went on to FSU after highschool, and Norville became his mentor. He next went to Harvard Law School, returned home and engaged in an effort to save the Lake Nokobee area from development.In spite of the clichés mentioned above, the author managed to keep a fresh perspective. His descriptions were so good that I formed a mental image of the land in question. I could also imagine the abandoned old houses, with their sagging porches and weathered boards. Frogman didn¿t seem to be a major character, but it turns out in a surprising plot twist that he was very important.Part of this book is a section called ¿The Anthill Chronicles.¿ Raff wrote his senior undergraduate thesis about a dying anthill at his beloved Lake Nokobee site, and this section teaches much about ant life. I remember in school being told that ants are social insects and work together to accomplish their goals. Nobody ever told me how much ant society is like human society. Amazing stuff. Much scientific information is given and could easily have turned this book into a rather boring narration; however, it kept my attention all the way through.It seems that Mr. Wilson based both Raff and Uncle Fred Norville on himself. Maybe, maybe not, but that¿s the impression I got.I recommend this book to anyone who wants a good story, along with having an interest in ecology.
checkadawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is a bit too full of detailed information about science and ecology. Personally, I liked the detail, and I certainly learned a lot, but then I also enjoy reading non-fiction books. Avid novel-readers might find this one tough-going at times. The characters are not full-fledged enough to carry the story, along with all its scientific baggage, but I loved Wilson¿s vivid descriptions of the land.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
48. [Anthill] by Edward O. Wilson. One of the book blurbs compared this to a modern day Huck Finn. I wouldn't go that far - I really enjoyed Wilson's story and his writing style, but to compare him to Twain would be a stretch. Wilson is incredibly talented though, this is another one of those cases where I wonder how it's possible for someone to be so talented - like [Atul Gawande]. Somehow, even though the book was a decent length, it moved along very quickly and ended when I felt there could have been enough for another hundred pages easily. The climax was a little farther out, but something had to happen, so there it was. Back to the Twain comparison, I felt like Wilson did at least catch a bit of flavor from the Old South and gave a history and science lesson rolled in between some covered boards. I'd recommend this book to those interested in the South, nature, or the struggle between society and wildlife.
ATechwreck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Soft, and well written book tracing the coming-of-age of Raphael, the son of an Old South mother and a working class father. Raphael escapes the unhappiness of his home to the surrounding woods and swamp where he studies nature and develops an expertise on environment. Raphael thus sets out to be a environmentalist, but his future takes him places he could not have imagined.Lovely descriptions of the ecology and anthills of the forest, but the story is a little slow to develop.
creynolds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting in how this is both about people and an ant colony, and how the two are very similar. It also introduces the idea of reaching evironmental goals through cooperation and compromise with those who want to use land for financial gain rather than forcing a win/lose situation. The only drawback is that it felt more like the book was set further back in the past than it really was, perhaps due to the author's age or perhaps because it was largely a book of the south.
ToTheWest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
E.O. Wilson, a biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of nonfiction, has produced a work of fiction best viewed as a fable, rather than a traditional novel. Anthill is the story of a boy, Raff, and his relationship to the natural surroundings of his hometown.There are few surprises in the plot and the human characters at veer dangerous close to southern stereotypes. As a coming-of-age tale, there are far better books out there. However, Wilson's love for his native Alabama and its natural history shine through in his prose. Likewise, I've also read many worse novels -- Wilson is a fine wordsmith, even if his narrative craft leaves something to be desired.The above might be damning with faint praise, but this is not: Anthill dazzles in the section called "The Anthill Chronicles". In less than one hundred pages, I came to care for the ant colonies and their triumphs and downfalls far more than those of any of the humans. Wilson's scientific speciality is the study of ants, and one of his Pulitzer Prizes was for a book he co-wrote on the subject. A non-entymologist reading this section could learn and understand all he or she would ever need to know about ants. I can't say I'm sorry I bought and read this book. The section on the ants is one I'll likely go back to now and again. I just wish Wilson hadn't laid the focus on his less interesting characters.
eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting parallel between people and nature, this takes place in Florida and follows the relationship between a young man and the forest ecosystem he loves. Great fiction for lovers of science and ecology, especially, with really intense scenes of the rise and fall of ant societies--but written with such flair that anyone would enjoy. An
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I almost hate to say this, because I don't mean it in a negative way at all, but this book is almost exactly the kind of book you might expect if E.O. Wilson were to sit down and try his hand at writing a novel. That is to say, it is not too bad. It's reasonably interesting--the section on ants is excellent, of course--if a bit too predicable in how it all turns out. But, if you have read any of E.O. Wilson's other non-fiction books, you can easily imagine him writing this one about the South he grew up in. Wilson is always a well-informed and competent writer, and he doesn't let you down in this book. It's not exactly Nevada Barr, but it's a perfectly satisfying leisurely read. I'd read another if he cared to write one.
lostbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As someone with a bachelors in biology, I enjoyed the section on the ants, though I don't think it did much to enhance the story. This story was very slow and redundant for me (and my husband, who read it first and did not care for it). The "exciting" part of the story seemed very far-fetched and too Grisham-like for me. I wouldn't recommend this as a good work of fiction.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Audiobook....found it to be boring....may have been my state of mind....
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Interesting story on a number of levels, wether as a light read or as mataphor for civilization.
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