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Anthill: A Novel Paperback – April 11, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
I have just finished Anthill, set mostly in Alabama and occasionally underground, by two times Pultizer Prize winner and first time novelist, aged 81, E.O. Wilson.
Pre-ordered ages ago, it arrived on my Kindle Monday and was enjoyable enough that it took less than 48 hours to read. If I had waited for the Australian release in June, from my favourite bookseller in Sydney, I would have parted with $32.95 (+ postage) rather than the $11.99 paid for the Kindle edition. The old publishing model is obviously just not sustainable, as well as being environmentally undesirable.
Structured in six sections, the number of legs an ant posseses, the story opened somewhat disappointingly, in fact it was quite boring and reminded me of many a teen novel with simplistic themes about adolescent identity. Quarter of the way into the novel (remember the Kindle does not have page numbers but percentages) it was like some kind of contemporary antebellum tale and not my cup of tea at all.
Then, all changed.
The Anthill Chronicles, the middle section of the novel, is the most interesting and engaging on a number of levels and I wish there was more of it. Wilson, in the acknowledgements, says that he is trying to "present the lives of these insects, as exactly as possible, from the ants' point of view". It is decent prose and explores the environment that Wilson knows more intimately than any of us.Read more ›
This story is that of Raff Cody, who falls in love with the land and its wildlife,especially ants, of the Nokobee Forest. The human side of the plot follows the young scientist's life through his eduction in science and finally law school with an emphasis on environmental law. In addition, author Wilson portrays the southern social contect of the day in that part of the country (e.g., lower middle and upper middle class families in the American south during the second and third quarter of the twentieth century). "Anthill" also describes Raff's long, single minded pursuit of his law degree and professional placement where he can save the Nokobee Forest from developers. Although intriguing, that part of the story seems a little too easily accomplished and with two few glitches. Likewise, in an escape from murderous evangelical Christians who hate Raff for his advanced education and conservationalist ideas, the trio chasing Raff are slaughtered by a paranoid hermit who lives in the woods. In my opinion, the narrative also suffers from too much narrative telling with too little "showing" of character development.
It is not surprising,considering author Wilson's resume, that it is the description of living creatures and botanical species that pushes the book "over the top" in reader engagement. The description of ant habitats (i.e.Read more ›
ANTHILL is a novel that seeks to elevate human beings and ants to new noble heights; it does so by pointing out the similarities, strength and weakness alike, in what Wilson considers to be sister species. This novel-cum-philosophical treatise also takes a passionate stab at the ethics and practice of conservation, emphasizing its environmental and spiritual importance while offering some considerations on how to best practice it. There is nothing particularly new or bold about ANTHILL, but that hardly stops it from being an emotionally rich, thoughtful meditation on our place in the universe and how to protect it.
Wilson has a masterful sense of place, and the novel's setting is as much its star as its protagonist. In Deep South Alabama lies Nokobee County, home to a rich lake and woodland brimming with rare plants and animals. Raff Cody, a small boy from the neighboring city of Clayville, acquires his education among the water, the woods, and, of course, the ants. This setting is home to gentlemen and ladies with honor codes of steel, crazed, gun-toting hermits with pet alligators, hunters whose passion for wildlife rivals most naturalists, and psychotic bible-beaters. From a cast that may be mildly described as "colorful," Raff emerges as a brilliant, intensely focused student determined to learn all he can about this swampier Eden. His work culminates in a thesis describing 20 years of ant life in the Nokobee tract, which Wilson intended as the most realistic portrayal of an ant's perspective on the world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
E.O. Wilson, the eminent scientist, has turned his had to writing fiction in this wonderful book. His lifelong specialty is the study of ants and he manages to insert a fascinating... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Finn
Great. Read With some entomology added . Have lent my copy numerous times, well receivedPublished 10 months ago by M C. Rose-Walker
Exceptional book! Who can get excited about ant colonies? I did and I'd highly recommend this unique page-turner.Published 12 months 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 14 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 15 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 15 months ago by me