White House Protest Corps

Edward O. Wilson’s Latest Book: New York Times Book Review
April 13, 2010, 11:47 pm
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Scientists hardly ever write novels. Fabricating imaginary people is not the domain of the scientific method, to put it mildly. Constructing a plot, lacing it with clues to lead the reader to a well-prepared conclusion, is heretical business for those trained to unprejudiced observation. But any who take the leap may use their worldliness to good advantage, smuggling gems of empirical knowledge across the literary border to create fiction with unusually rewarding heft. Consider the meticulous puzzle­-solving of Sir ­Arthur Conan Doyle (a trained surgeon) or the flights of physics in Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams.”

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Illustration by Gracia Lam


By E. O. Wilson

378 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $24.95

Next, think of Edward O. Wilson, one of the most important biological theorists since Darwin. Author of some two dozen books, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, expert on social insects, discoverer of new species, passionate advocate of bio­diversity, he is best known for his groundbreaking work on the evolution of social behavior. He had a considerable cache of scholarship to tuck into his pockets before slipping across the genre line to write his first novel, “Anthill.”


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