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Starred Review. A Pulitzer Prize–winning nonfiction author and Harvard entomology professor, Wilson (The Ants) channels Huck Finn in his creative coming-of-age debut novel. Split into three parallel worlds—ants, humans, and the biosphere—the story follows young Raff Cody, who escapes the humid summers in Clayville, Ala., by exploring the remote Nokobee wilderness with his cousin, Junior. In one adventure, sneaking onto the property of a reputed multiple murderer to peek at his rumored 1,000-pound pet alligator, 15-year-old Raff faces down the barrel of a rifle. Raff's aversion to game hunting, ant fascination, Boy Scout achievements, and Harvard education all support his core need to remain a naturalist explorer. A remarkable center section meticulously details the life and death of an ant colony. Nearing 30, Raff's desire to preserve the Nokobee reserve from greedy real estate developers galvanizes an effort to protect the sacred land and a surprise violent ending brings everything full circle. 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.
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While critics unanimously praised Wilson's pioneering scientific work, they had mixed reactions to his debut novel. Wilson captures the carefree bliss of boyhood, and his vivid descriptions of the forest's flora and fauna will transport readers to the wilds of Alabama. The 70 pages comprising "The Anthill Chronicles" feature some of the novel's most eloquent and mesmerizing prose. (A portion of "The Anthill Chronicles" was published in the New Yorker as "Trailhead" and is available at newyorker.com). However, some critics complained that the prominent biologist neglects key elements of fiction, such as characterization and dialogue, and strays too often from his plot. Despite these concerns, Wilson's foray into creative writing allows him to explore the spirituality of nature, and readers open to its ecological message will find Anthill an intriguing and inspiring book.See all Editorial Reviews
Exceptional book! Who can get excited about ant colonies? I did and I'd highly recommend this unique page-turner.Published 1 month ago by Bonne Price
Fascinating book. I'll never think of ants the same again....even gives me guilt when I exterminate the home ant invaders. Recommend.Published 3 months ago by kkcj
ANTHILL is a remarkable novel. Harvard professor E. O. Wilson has spent his life in science, devoting much of his work to the study of ants, but being a good scientist doesn't... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kent Peterson
Good effort even though Prof. Wilson is a much better science writer than novelist. He is also a distinguished scientist and naturalist so I give him every break as a first time... Read morePublished 4 months ago by me
About main character Raphael Semmes Cody and his life-long relationship with a local wilderness. This relationship involves finesse and nuance. Read morePublished 7 months ago by EBCreader
This book felt more like a parable or treatise than fiction. I loved the details about the ants. That was hands down the best part of the book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Michael Tian