Edward O. Wilson is the world's most recognized expert on ants. In "Naturalist", his autobiography, he traces his personal and professional history from childhood in Alabama, where an accident destroyed one of his eyes, to Professorship at Harvard, and international recognition. Wilson also became an extremely controversial figure with the publication of "Sociobiology" in the 1970's. There, he attempted to apply some of his research findings on social insects to other species, including mankind. This foray into the debate over whether genetic or cultural influences are most important ("nature-vs-nurture") engaged political as well as scientific passions. It was fascinating to read how this scientist dealt with explosive controversy over the ramifications of his work. I was very sad to learn that the two life scientists whose words I have most enjoyed, both in the same Harvard department, have been bitter adversaries for many years. The two are Professor Wilson and Professor Stephen Jay Gould. "Naturalist" is available in paper from a book club, which is where I got my copy.

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Edward O. Wilson

Publication Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 1995