A Novel

Book - 2010
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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.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2010.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393071191
Branch Call Number: WILSON E
Characteristics: 378 pages : maps ; 22 cm.


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From Library Staff

The Globe Trotter & The Tree Hugger

Rich lyrical reverence for the natural world. Wilson illuminates a deeper understanding of human behavior in his lyrical & suspenseful tale set in rural Alabama & Florida.

Echoing natural world reverence as in Unsheltered by Kingsolver. Wilson illuminates a deeper understanding of human behavior in his lyrical & suspenseful tale. Both Kingsolver and Wilson are committed to conserving the natural world.

From the critics

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Aug 20, 2013

The story was interesting enough to make me want to continue reading, despite Wilson's pervasive and annoying evolutionary-psychology commentary. The part told from the point of view of the ants was by far the most interesting part of the book, probably because the human characters were so two-dimensional. Still, I enjoyed it.

Apr 18, 2012

Anthill by E.O. Wilson was a disappointing story. Wilson is a great naturalist but a poor writer of fiction. The novel seems to have six disconnected sections. The first sections revolves around the adolescent naturalist Raff Cody and his cousin. But the novel jumps to a second section which details the back story of Cody's parents. We never hear about the cousin again. The third section sees an older Cody at university studying biology. From the second section onwards, the narrative is often taken over by a professor who sees himself as mentor to Cody. Oddly enough we never get to see Cody's point of view of this relationship. How the professor should know so much about Cody is inexplicable. Why Wilson didn't stick with Cody's view point becomes apparent in the fourth section. This is called the Anthill Chronicles and is a seventy page digression about ants written as a sort of ant-sized fable. Acccording to the narrative, the professor wrote the Anthill Chronicles from Cody's undergraduate thesis. Very bizarre inclusion of this digression that has no obvious place in the narrative. At the conclusion of the ant story, a fifth section follows with a flowery description of life at Harvard as Cody enters law school. An awkwardly written romance occurs but like the cousin in section one, the girlfriend all but disappears from the story as the section ends. Then the final sixth section begins which is over-the-top in its strangeness. For some reason which is never explained and seems to happen without motivation, Cody is kidnapped and will be murdered. He does escape death during the massacre of his kidnappers. The story then ends happily ever after. If nothing else, Anthill could prove useful as an exemplar of how-not-to-tell-a-story.

Dec 30, 2011


BPLNextBestAdults Jul 13, 2011

E.O. Wilson, at the age of 80, has written his very first novel. It is a story that takes place in the Longleaf Pine Savanna of the deep South where 10 year old Raff Semmes Cody explores the natural world of the plants and creatures that dwell near Lake Nokobee. As Raff grows up and earns a degree in environmental studies he discovers some uncanny similarities between ants and humans. Ants also conduct savage wars, take slaves, have a worker caste system, infant nurseries and in many ways are even more altruistic than us.
The author E.O. Wilson is a world renowned biologist, an expert on ants, and has more than 20 books to his credit as well as two Pulitizer Prizes plus numerous scientific awards achieved during his career as a Harvard Professor. He has given a voice to the ants as he takes us on a journey through their habitat.
Meanwhile the stage is set for a clash between land developers, environmentalists and religious groups as they fight over the pristine wilderness of Lake Nokobee. Our hero Raff, at age 30, is now an environmental Harvard trained lawyer and leads the legal tangle of opposing viewpoints.
This is a powerful and inspiring story with many revelations and a very shocking conclusion.

madame_librarian Mar 03, 2011

E. O. Wilson, one of the world's most respected biologists and naturalists, has given us a debut novel about a young man with a passion to save his beloved wetlands in Nokobee County, Alabama. As a youth, Raff Cody explored the woods and river's edge for hours on end. It was a pristine paradise to him. As a self-taught naturalist, he developed the skills of keen observation, animal tracking, plant identification, and he took a special interest in four competing ant colonies. "The Anthill Chronicles," penned by Raff as his undergraduate thesis, makes up the mid-section of Wilson's story. I'm certainly no lover of creepy crawlies, especially when they creep and crawl on my kitchen counter, but I must say that reading the epic tale of dominance and survival in the natural ant world was some of the most fascinating science reading I've done recently. Their dramatic story portrays an instinct-driven universe filled with tension, sex, murder, negotiation, confrontation, and all-out, bloody warfare.
As a young lawyer determined to rescue this beautiful natural habitat, Raff strives to find a compromise acceptable to the developers and the environmentalists--competing human "anthills "--and in creating this parallel, E. O. Wilson teaches us that people, too, are involved in life-and-death struggles for survival that affect not only the fate of our own species, but all the rest of earth's living things as well. I never started out wanting to know this much about ants in the wild, but after this fine book, I'm certainly glad I do.

Nov 19, 2010

An easy going book with some insites into the operation of nature and ants. The end of the book adds some drama which, in my mind, detracts from the rest of the book.

Jul 10, 2010

This is certainly one of the worst novels I've ever read. As a novel, it's indescribably bad. The author simply isn't a novelist

However the author is an entymologist, and embedded in this novel is something called "The Anthill Chronicles" - an entrancing account of the live cycles of ant hills.

Read the book, by all means, but only the anthill part. Skip the novel part, whatever you do.


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