Edward O. Wilson – winner of two Pulitzer prizes, champion of biodiversity, and Faculty Emeritus at Harvard University – was arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. Yet his celebrated career began not with an elite education but from an insatiable curiosity about the natural world and drive to explore its mysteries. Called "one of the finest scientific memoirs ever written" by the Los Angeles Times, Naturalist is a wise and personal account of Wilson's growth as a scientist and the evolution of the fields he helped define.
This 25th Anniversary Edition celebrates Naturalist as a modern classic. Wilson traces the trajectory of his life – from a childhood spent exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to life as a tenured professor at Harvard – detailing how his youthful fascination with nature blossomed into a lifelong calling. With humor and insight, Wilson recounts his days as a student at the University of Alabama and decades at Harvard University, where he has achieved renown as both teacher and researcher.
As the narrative of Wilson's life unfolds, the reader is treated to an inside look at the origin and development of ideas that guide today's biological research. Theories that are now widely accepted in the scientific world were once untested hypotheses emerging from one man's wide-ranging studies. At once practical and lyric, Naturalist provides fascinating insights into the making of a scientist, and a valuable look at some of the most thought-provoking ideas of our time.
As relevant today as when it was first published, Naturalist is a poignant reminder of the deeply human side of science and an inspiring call to celebrate the little things of the world
PART I. Daybreak in Alabama
Chapter 1. Paradise Beach
Chapter 2. Send Us the Boy
Chapter 3. A Light in the Corner
Chapter 4. A Magic Kingdom
Chapter 5. To Do My Duty
Chapter 6. Alabama Dreaming
Chapter 7. The Hunters
Chapter 8. Good-Bye to the South
Chapter 9. Orizaba
PART II. Storyteller
Chapter 10. The South Pacific
Chapter 11. The Forms of Things Unknown
Chapter 12. The Molecular Wars
Chapter 13. Islands Are the Key
Chapter 14. The Florida Keys Experiment
Chapter 15. Ants
Chapter 16. Attaining Sociobiology
Chapter 17. The Sociobiology Controversy
Chapter 18. Biodiversity, Biophilia
Regarded as one of the world's preeminent biologists and naturalists, Edward O. Wilson grew up in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, where he spent his boyhood exploring the region's forests and swamps, collecting snakes, butterflies, and ants – the latter to become his lifelong speciality. Dr Wilson was the author of more than twenty books, including The Ants and On Human Nature, both of which were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He was Faculty Emeritus in the Museum of Comparative Zoology and Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University.
"From the very first sentence you are gripped by E.O. Wilson's autobiography the story of perhaps the preeminent biologist of the past 100 years. [...] He concludes his book by describing his deepest convictions, namely that science is the force of global civilisation; that the spread of its ethic provides his faith in humanity; and the realisation that we are alone, and thus the sole steward of the Earth, his religion. If one does need a religion, that is about as good as it gets."
– Derek Charlwood, The Biologist 66(5) October/November 2019