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Asserting that religious creeds and philosophical questions can be reduced to purely genetic and evolutionary components, and that the human body and mind have a physical base obedient to the laws of physics and chemistry, Genesis demonstrates that the only way for us to understand human behaviour fully is to study the evolutionary histories of nonhuman species. Of these, Wilson demonstrates that at least seventeen – among them the African naked mole rat and the sponge-dwelling shrimp – have been found to have advanced societies based on altruism and cooperation. Whether writing about midges who 'dance about like acrobats' or schools of anchovies who protectively huddle 'to appear like a gigantic fish, or proposing that human society owes a debt of gratitude to 'postmenopausal grandmothers' and 'childless homosexuals', Genesis is a pithy yet pathbreaking work of evolutionary theory filled with the lyrical biological and humanistic observations for which Wilson is known.
Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world's pre-eminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than thirty books, including Consilience, The Diversity of Life, The Social Conquest of Earth, The Meaning of Human Existence and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
"A magisterial history of social evolution [...] A lucid, concise overview of human evolution that focuses on the true source of our pre-eminence: the ability to work together"
"Engaging [...] Wilson inspires awe with narratives about evolution and animal societies."
"In his characteristically clear, succinct and elegant prose, one of our grand masters of synthesis, E. O. Wilson, here explains no less than the origin of human society."
– Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb
"Genesis is a beautifully clear account of a question that has lain unsolved at the core of biology ever since Darwin: how can natural selection produce individuals so altruistic that, rather than breeding themselves, they help others to do so? In elegant, simple language Edward O. Wilson distills a magisterial knowledge of animal diversity into an unambiguous argument that the solution is group selection. Rich in accounts of extraordinary societies, Genesis is the ideal introduction to a problem of enduring fascination."
– Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox
"Endlessly fascinating, Edward O. Wilson – in the tradition of Darwin – plumbs the depths of human evolution in a most readable fashion without sacrificing scholarly rigor."
– Michael Ruse, author of A Meaning of Life