• Scientist

  • E. O. Wilson: A Life in Nature
  • By: Richard Rhodes
  • Narrated by: Lincoln Hoppe
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A masterful, timely, fully authorized biography of the great and hugely influential biologist and naturalist E. O. Wilson, one of the most groundbreaking and controversial scientists of our time - from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

"An impressive account of one of the 20th century’s most prominent biologists, for whom the natural world is ‘a sanctuary and a realm of boundless adventure; the fewer the people in it, the better.’” (The New York Times Book Review)

Few biologists in the long history of that science have been as productive, as groundbreaking, and as controversial as the Alabama-born Edward Osborne Wilson. At 91 years of age, he may be the most eminent American scientist in any field.

Fascinated from an early age by the natural world in general and ants in particular, his field work on them and on all social insects has vastly expanded our knowledge of their many species and fascinating ways of being. This work led to his 1975 book Sociobiology, which created an intellectual firestorm from his contention that all animal behavior, including that of humans, is governed by the laws of evolution and genetics. Subsequently, Wilson has become a leading voice on the crucial importance to all life of biodiversity and has worked tirelessly to synthesize the fields of science and the humanities in a fruitful way. 

Richard Rhodes is himself a towering figure in the field of science writing, and he has had complete and unfettered access to Wilson, his associates, and his papers in writing this book. The result is one of the most accomplished and anticipated and urgently needed scientific biographies in years.

©2021 Richard Rhodes (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Wilson’s life and substantial accomplishments - many have called him the 'natural heir' to Darwin - are ripe topics for exploration, and particularly important as we continue to confront the climate crisis’ effects on biodiversity."  (Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2021) 

What listeners say about Scientist

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A wonderful Biography, I feel like I know him.

I enjoyed this book. I feel like I know EO Wilson now. Its almost like I remember him, as I do the professors I had in grad school.

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a story of an exceptional man written by an exceptionsl man

E O wilson was one of the most amazing people of the last 9 decades. We have been blessed by them. He had the work ethic of Louis Pasteur.

The author Richard Rhodes deserves a biography of his own. He has been prolific and diverse, scholarly and diverse. Even when delving into technical subjects he makes it interesting and readable. cheers for both these great men.

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Learn to love Biodiversity.

By hearing many a story, you just may come away with love of Nature. Recommend.

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Superb ecology and biography

Rhodes' book is superb on both the ecology and story of the remarkable E. O. Wilson's life. He does as much as one can do with MacArthur & Wilson's Theory of Island Biogeography without using graphs, including a detailed description of how Wilson and his doctoral student Simberloff tested the theory with Florida islands. The book reminded me a bit of Isaacson's 'Code Breaker' when detailing with some of the academic nastiness in the Harvard battles between Watson, Gould, Lewontin and Wilson and the vicious attach on Wilson over Sociobiology. It would have been nice to have had some mention of the peer review process in the dessimination of Wilson's work. Rhodes makes it appear that Wilson wrote out his ideas in longhand, had them transcribed by his long-time secretary, and then they appeared unaltered in top journals and books. Perhaps it was that easy for him. A good part of Isaacson's Code Breaker was devoted to the peer review process and the rush to publication in top journals. That important element of science is missing from Rhodes' book, other than a brief section on the battle over Sociobiology in 'The New York Review of Books'.