E. O. Wilson, among the most prominent biologists working today, has made signal contributions to the field both large and small. As an entomologist, and especially as a student of several kinds of ants, he is famed among a small audience. He is better known for his work in the controversial subdiscipline of sociobiology for his formulations of island-biogeographic theory, and for his catastrophic view of modern extinctions. His lucid memoir, Naturalist,
treats all these matters and more, and it celebrates the sea change in our view of nature--namely, that we now see that "we are bound to the rest of life in our ecology, our physiology, and even our spirit"--that has come about in no small measure because of Wilson's distinguished career.
From Publishers 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 Holldobler 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.
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