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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,513 ratings  ·  455 reviews
Inspirational and magical, this is the story of a boy who grows up determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: man himself.

“What the hell do you want?” snarled Frogman at Raff Cody, as the boy stepped innocently on the reputed murderer’s property. Fifteen years old, Raff had only wanted to catch a glimpse of Frogman’s 1,000-pound alligator.

Hardcover, 378 pages
Published April 5th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,513 ratings  ·  455 reviews

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Simona B
May 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2000, in-italian
I adore biology, but narratively speaking this was torture, and the biology in it is an end in itself. I skimmed very quickly through the last part. So disapponting.
It means I'll turn to nonfiction again to second my love for social insects.
David Rubenstein
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
So, how can a novel also be a book about science, biology, and environmentalism? Edward O. Wilson, eminent biologist, researcher, environmentalist, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author has managed. This is a coming-of-age story about a boy named Raff, who grows up in southern Alabama, at the edge of a piece of wilderness known as the Nokobee tract. He grows up loving this wilderness area, and visits frequently, studying the plants and wildlife that thrive there. His relatives don't quite understand ...more
Courtney Johnston
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
[Three quarters of this book is a two star - one quarter is five. Herein I try to explains why.]

I picked up this book at the library because I remembered seeing a review in the New York Times and being all awww, an octogenarian Pulitzer Prize winning biologist has written his first novel, a roman a clef about growing up as a nature-obsessed little boy in the South.

In fact, when you think about it, there's nothing 'awwww' about being a Pulitzer Prize winning biologist at all. Such people are both
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I had been desperately looking forward to this book for over a year, from the moment I heard E.O. Wilson mention at a live appearance that he had written his first novel and it was being published. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Wilson – he is one of my personal heroes both due to his impressive scientific and philosophical work and his ability to convey these ideas to the public through his prolific writing of popular science books. I’ve read a number of his nonfiction scienc ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
E.O. Wilson has written over 20 books, mostly non-fiction, Anthill is his first fiction title. Winner of 2 Pulitzer Prizes, and considered by many to be the world's leading authority on ants, E.O.Wilson is also Professor Emeritus at Harvard, so there are many reasons why one should give this work some time and energy to read.
The only thing I really know about ants are how annoying they can be when I don't want them in the kitchen......
Coming of age story about Raff, in rural Alabama on the Flor
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written by biologist E.O.Wilson ( it's his first novel), this is the story of Raff Cody. He grows up exploring the Nokobee tract, the last remnant of old-growth longleaf pine savannah of the Gulf coastal plain of South Alabama. He goes on to study biology at Florida State U. where he writes " The Anthill Chronicles," a history of the rise and fall of ant empires that unfold on the picnic grounds near Lake Nokobee. That story in itself is fascinating enough, but I was also completely ...more
Cynthia  Scott
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-fiction
Especially recommmended for those who love natural science, the South, southern novels. Imagine Eudora Welty and Carl Sagan writing together. So far I love it.
Actually, I'd give this 3.8 stars. I expected Wilson to write an atypical novel, and he did. In the Prologue, he writes that this is a story about three parallel worlds, which nevertheless exist in the same space and time ... but in cycles so different in magnitude that each is virtually invisible to the others. Two of the "worlds" - human societies and the biosphere - don't seem much like cycles, but more like change through time. The ant world does show a cycle.

There are six parts to this book
Apr 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Anthill by E.O. Wilson was a disappointing story. Wilson is a great naturalist but a poor writer of fiction. The novel seems to have six disconnected sections. The first sections revolves around the adolescent naturalist Raff Cody and his cousin. But the novel jumps to a second section which details the back story of Cody's parents. We never hear about the cousin again. The third section sees an older Cody at university studying biology. From the second section onwards, the narrative is often ta ...more
Paul Mazzuca
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is such a good book to explain effective environmental activism and aspects of sociobiology that I gave it to a bright young ninth grader nephew. My nephew was busy trying to save a dam in his own backyard in Pennsylvania.

Anthill tells the story of a young man in semi-rural Mississippi who learns the basis of the scientific method - acute obsevation- as he watches the progress and destruction of competing anthills in a beautiful part of his own greater backyard.

It tells his story, from his
John Jefferies
I am finding this tale growing tedious - enjoyed learning the details of anthood which was all new to me and engrossing (I presume the section was based on real research) but much of the later saga of Raff is too detailed to hold my interest and I find myself skipping much of it. I would blame the editor for much of this but the author should have caught it. I was surprised indeed to find that the book had won a Pulitzer Prize.
Joshua Mirabella
Aug 19, 2021 rated it liked it
This was sort of a natural history book masquerading as a novel. It had a lot of fascinating information, but as far as a work of fiction goes it was underwhelming. Cool themes such as conservation, religion, tradition, and family got a little murky in the mission to educate the reader. Still, it was an enjoyable read.

The best section, that pulls it up significantly, was a part of the book that as told from the perspective of ants. I still love Wilson as an author and look forward to reading som
William Breakstone
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing


“ANTHILL,” by E. O. Wilson

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone, September 26, 2010

Here’s proof, once again, that there’s wonderful literature to be found off the New York Times Bestseller List!

E. O. Wilson is the Pulitzer Price-winning author of The Ants and The Naturalist. Regarded as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists, Wilson grew up in South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, and is currently Professor Emeritus of Biology and Entomology at Harvard University. The prese
Sylvia Walker
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author explores conservation issues, religious views of the Creation, politics, greed, and above all, the glorious fun of being in nature, studying and enjoying and protecting nature. The middle of the novel is devoted to a parable and study of ants, which, as I never before had much interest in ants, surprised me by being very interesting.
Kayla Ewing
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel marries my seemingly unrelated interests in literature and biological science. It is both a good story and a great insight into ecology. I also love that it is set in Alabama. This book is me through and through.
Apr 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Edward O. Wilson is a Pulitzer prize-winning author and naturalist. Anthill follows the life of young Raff a boy entranced by nature and most especially the life of Lake Nokobee, a small patch of wilderness near his Alabama home.

Wilson excels and description of setting, of the creatures that inhabit Raff's favorite places, and most particularly the life of the ants in the Nokobee area (ants being the subject of his Pulitzer non-fiction book). The book is intelligent and readable, but falls flat
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

I am a devotee of young adult fiction, where the stories are full of action and to the point. E.O. Wilson's Anthill is so labeled. It is very much on point. I was disappointed in the lack of action, though I will admit there is some: as a young teenager, Raff encounters a fearsome backwoods hermit; later, as an adult, Raff flees three bad men who mean to shoot and kill him, and is rescued by the same backwoods hermit. Also, there are the ants ... the best part of the boo
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it
First novel from one of the world's most prominent biologists and yes, authorities on ants. I grew up fascinated by ants and kept mason jars of them so I could watch them dig out tunnels, plus I grew up in the south, so I figured I might enjoy Alabamian E.O Wilson's debut work of fiction (he's written over 20 other books.) It's about a naturalist growing up in the South and the tensions between families of different classes, the opposing needs for conservation and development of land in poor rur ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Jun 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: july-aug-2010
While critics unanimously praised Wilson's pioneering scientific work, they had mixed reactions to his debut novel. Wilson captures the carefree bliss of boyhood, and his vivid descriptions of the forest's flora and fauna will transport readers to the wilds of Alabama. The 70 pages comprising "The Anthill Chronicles" feature some of the novel's most eloquent and mesmerizing prose. (A portion of "The Anthill Chronicles" was published in the New Yorker as "Trailhead" and is available at newyorker. ...more
May 29, 2010 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in this book. It had garnered so much praise, but I thought that the only part worthy of any praise was the middle part, "The Anthill Chronicles." It was fascinating to read about the ants and the ant colonies. Wilson describes the ants' relationship to the environment, the way they process information, the way they communicate so clearly and interestingly. But I almost didn't get to that part. The beginning was a slog as he spent far too many pages on the genealogy of the mai ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Major disappointment - I stuck it through, only to arrive at one of the most contrived and poorly done conclusions I've come across in a long time. This novel appears to be a transparent cover of the author's life, or events he would've wanted added to his life. And then, as a supposedly clever twist, he seems to have cast himself as the wisened professorial sage and narrator overseeing his protoge/main character. I wanted to like this book, and did for the first handful of chapters. But the car ...more
The story of Raff Cody starts off nice enough, but to find the treasure of this novel one has to dig deep within the Anthill until reaching the part called The Anthill Chronicles (Part IV of the book). This is where the real action takes place: Ant-sex, soldiers, queens and maidens, battles, conquests, even a siege and some ant cannibalism. I was secretly hoping for an ant slave raid such as the one observed by Thoreau near his Walden cabin (and commented on by Wilson in The Future of Life), and ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Dianah by: Shelf Awareness
Anthill is a southern coming-of-age tale that somehow includes a political analysis on environmental preservation, species extinction, and corrupt land developers. This is not a bad thing. Midway through the book is an extensive look at the explosive rise and dismal fall of several ant colonies in the Lake Nokobee Forest in Alabama. This, too, is not a bad thing. Wilson has the amazing ability to explain ant colony life in a way that seems like the most fascinating thing you could ever wish to r ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book better than I did and certainly the author's heart is in the right place. The book is divided into thirds; the first tells the story of a young man developing an interest in biology, the second tells the story of a year in the life of a group of anthills, and the third talks about a kid interested in biology who becomes and eco activist and lawyer. The part about the anthill is the most interesting, as Wilson knows more about ants than most anyone, and he really makes ...more
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was looking through the current releases at the library one day, and Anthill caught my eye. It's not the type of book I might normally be drawn to. The first fiction book written by a preeminent biologist and naturalist? However, after reading the fly leaf, it just seemed that I would enjoy it.
I'd actually give it 3.5 stars over 4. Much of the story of Raff, the young hero of the book, is a little clunky, plodding, and somewhat convenient. But hidden about 2/3 into the book is a side story, T
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was really hoping this would not feel like a book written by an old, white man who does not have experience writing novels, but it really, really did. The story was incredibly disjointed to the point that every new section of the book felt completely unconnected to the rest (especially the Anthill Chronicles, although that was actually one of the more enjoyable parts of the book). Additionally, the pontification about the wonders of Harvard, the extremely one-sided, stereotypical character ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This book seemed very uneven and at times disjointed. Some parts were beautifully written (thus the 3 stars). Other parts were plodding and clunky. It seemed like several stories awkwardly stitched together. This leads to me review in segments. The beginning describing Raff's childhood in the south was particularly well done. I also liked the description of his time at Harvard. The anthill story was very well written, but too self consciously a metaphor for the human narrative. The denouement di ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This amazing book takes different POVs. First we have a budding naturalist young Raff growing up in the Alabama wilderness, then his mentor a Professor who recognizes and encourages his talent. My favorite section, the Anthill Chronicles where we are inside the ant hills following their struggles and triumphs. If only The Bees had been this good. Then we return to Raff again who goes to Harvard to become a environmental lawyer in order to protect his beloved wilderness. A very satisfying story.
Jun 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: entomologists
Recommended to Deb by: Found on Shelf Awareness
I thought this book was interesting! Everything you ever wanted to know about ants, but were afraid to ask! I especially liked the comparison of ant society to the almost caste system social network of the deep South. I thought the ending was a little strange, but it served the purpose. It felt a little abrupt. Like the writer was tired of the book and just wanted to end it all in a "popular" way. ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I think the best part of the book is the middle, called "The Anthill Chronicles", which tells you everything you ever wanted to know about ant colonies...that they are an altruistic society, a superorganism where all activity is for the good of the colony. All the workers and soldiers are females,- males are only for copulation and then they die. Ants send their weak and disabled to war. Whereas we send our young men, they send their old ladies. Glad I'm not an ant!

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Edward Osborne Wilson, sometimes credited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, a branch of entomology. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Wilson is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his secular-humanist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical ma ...more

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“Thousands of times greater in space and time is the third of our worlds, the biosphere, the totality of all life, plastered like a membrane over all of earth. The biosphere has its own epic cycles. Humanity, one of the countless species forming the biosphere, can perturb it, but we cannot leave it or destroy it without perishing ourselves. The cycles of the other species can be destroyed, and the biosphere corrupted. But for each careless step we take, our species will ultimately pay an unwelcome price—always.” 0 likes
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