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The Social Conquest of Earth | [Edward O. Wilson]

The Social Conquest of Earth

Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s preeminent biologists, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the author of more than 25 books. The defining work in a remarkable career, The Social Conquest of Earth boldly addresses age-old questions (Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going?) while delving into the biological sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts.
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Publisher's Summary

Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s preeminent biologists, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the author of more than 25 books. The defining work in a remarkable career, The Social Conquest of Earth boldly addresses age-old questions (Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going?) while delving into the biological sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts.

©2012 Edward O. Wilson (P)2012 Recorded Books. LLC

What the Critics Say

“Wilson’s newest theory...could transform our understanding of human nature—and provide hope for our stewardship of the planet.... [His] new book is not limited to the discussion of evolutionary biology, but ranges provocatively through the humanities.... Its impact on the social sciences could be as great as its importance for biology, advancing human self-understanding in ways typically associated with the great philosophers.” (Howard W. French, The Atlantic)

“a huge, deep, thrilling work, presenting a radically new but cautiously hopeful view of human evolution, human nature, and human society. No one but E. O. Wilson could bring together such a brilliant synthesis of biology and the humanities, to shed light on the origins of language, religion, art, and all of human culture.” (Oliver Sacks)

“Never shy about tackling big questions, veteran evolutionary biologist Wilson delivers his thoughtful if contentious explanation of why humans rule the Earth... Wilson succeeds in explaining his complex ideas, so attentive readers will receive a deeply satisfying exposure to a major scientific controversy.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (205 )
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3.9 (160 )
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3.8 (165 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-21-12
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2001

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Wow, Wilson has a lot to say and boy can he write."

    I've read a bunch of Richard Dawkins' books before this and Wilson's book is just icing on the cake. Wilson writes better than a poet and really has a lot to say that's interesting in the field.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 06-10-13
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 06-10-13 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Definitely a primer..."

    in neo-Darwinean thought that does not add anything too much at all to the more intellectual, and certainly more engaging works of Dawkins, Dennett, Pinker and Wright. While this is not a bad book at all and certainly has its good moments, I would decidedly recommend a book by the authors above over this, as it is very basic in its information and approach.

    I almost never say anything about narrators, because, if the book is engaging, I usually don't register the voice of the reader too much, but the narrator of this book has the mildly annoying sound of Tom Brokaw after a Valium.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert B. Golson Monroe,LA USA 04-26-12
    Robert B. Golson Monroe,LA USA 04-26-12 Member Since 2008

    regular guy

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    "mixed bag"

    Drags in places,but the chapter on religion and the concluding chapter make this book well worth a credit. People of religion will find Wilson's thoughts difficult to swallow. If the book does nothing else, it will make you think.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mohammad Banikazemi NEW YORK, NY, United States 05-31-12
    Mohammad Banikazemi NEW YORK, NY, United States 05-31-12 Member Since 2010

    Mainly interested in non-fiction.: science, politics, history, ...

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    "Superb performance"
    What made the experience of listening to The Social Conquest of Earth the most enjoyable?

    Just wanted to comment on the reader. Even though I thought the reading of the text was a bit annoying at the beginning, I have come to love the way the book is read. Excellent performance.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Monroe, LA, United States 04-26-12
    Robert Monroe, LA, United States 04-26-12 Member Since 2008
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    "mixed bag"

    Drags in places,but the chapter on religion and the concluding chapter make this book well worth a credit. People of religion will find Wilson's thoughts difficult to swallow. If the book does nothing else, it will make you think.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel COLUMBUS, OH, United States 11-08-12
    Rachel COLUMBUS, OH, United States 11-08-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting theories, clearly organized"

    In The Social Conquest of Earth, Wilson expounds upon the theories that were set forth in his classic work Sociobiology. His main thesis is that group selection, not kin selection, drove evolution and helped us to develop societies. He compares the way human society developed to the way ant "society" developed (ants are his specialty). He suggests reasons why religion and xenophobia would have originally developed as protective characteristics of groups. This book covers a large swath of material...from ants to human prehistory, to history, to today. I think he did a pretty good job organizing the book considering what a wide topic he was covering. His theories were clear and for the most part convincing. I think Wilson is an atheist, but he did a pretty good job of stating his opinions in an agnostic sort of way to avoid insulting the faithful. I think the book was well-written, interesting, and approachable by a non-scientific audience.

    I had no issues with Hogan's narration--he read the book well, but it wasn't anything worth raving about.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James COLUMBUS, OH, United States 08-13-12
    James COLUMBUS, OH, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2004

    Professor, Ohio State University

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    "Biology as the Door to Knowing Our Destiny"
    What did you love best about The Social Conquest of Earth?

    Wilson redeemed himself for me with this book. As a psychological scientist, I always have been a bit rattled by his glib use of the word instinct, because it has never been an explanation of behavior or adaptive adjustment to the changing world. He clarified what he sees as the constant interplay of the gene enabling machinery of life in the adaptation of individuals and social groups. His explanation of epigenesis in adaption, the regultion of gene expression, put it all into proper comprehensible perspective. I will still avoid the word instinct, but he has correction outlined the limits of adaptation in the continuous interplay of coding gene expression during development and adjustment to the environment. For me, he made me see with great clarity that learning, differing as it does in different organisms and at different point in development and aging, is just another gene -expression enabled mechanism of adaptation. Inherited biological processes set limits on individual learning, as do diseases that are partly related to inhereted (or mutation produce) processes. This is a wonderful, lyrical at times, book of science that conveys profound insights into issues of existential and practical concern for all people.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it took a bit more than a weekend of walking in parks and doing chores.


    Any additional comments?

    I think people with a bit better than average knowledge of modern biology will get the most from this book. The reader, however, is superb, and does justice to Wilson's sometimes beautiful prose. This is a book to ponder in full again after some additional reflection.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig Campbell austin, TX United States 04-24-13
    Craig Campbell austin, TX United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Very Unusual Perspective"

    Fascinating to consider the comparisons between ants and people. The power of social evolution in the development of two such different species was amazing to see as the book developed. It was a perspective that I had never considered. As our social communications continues to develop and expand, it will be interesting in a few thousand years see what the results will be.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean WORTHINGTON, MA, United States 03-26-13
    Sean WORTHINGTON, MA, United States 03-26-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A delightful dose of rational optimism"

    If you're even considering EO Wilson, you most likely have some acquaintance with the man and/or his ideas. As a renowned evolutionary biologist and world expert on hymenoptera (ants in particular), he's made his mark on our understanding of the lessons to be learned from eusociality in the insect world and on the evolutionary underpinnings of our own social lives. This book continues that exploration in a thoughtful, engaging, & accessible way. While the lengthy examinations of eusociality in the insect world may not appeal to everyone, the overall thesis--that our lives as social beings are the result of group selection (rather than the largely discredited kinship theory) and the tension between individual and group interest--is captivating, and is sure to appeal to anyone with a scientific bent.

    What this volume includes that others of his have not is Wilson's deeply personal meditations on what a truly rational and scientific understanding of our social life implies, both in terms of its ability to promote a deeper grasp of the human condition & its potential meaning for the future of humanity.

    It's astonishing to think of a man his age writing a book so full of the wonder of exploration and discovery. The ideas & their implications will linger with you long after the final chapter...

    Great stuff!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Cope Washington, DC 11-06-13
    C. Cope Washington, DC 11-06-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Exceptional book! No other way to put it."
    Where does The Social Conquest of Earth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I've read 84 books this year, and this was the best one. What more can I say? E O Wilson is a brilliant mind, a Pulitzer Prize winning science educator, and this book is the perfect capstone for his long and amazingly productive career. By tirelessly studying ants, he has learned the meaning of humanity's existence and proves it here.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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