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Anthill  By  cover art

Anthill

By: E. O. Wilson
Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
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Publisher's Summary

Inspirational and magical, here 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 onto the reputed murderer's property. Fifteen years old, Raff, along with his older cousin, Junior, had only wanted to catch a glimpse of Frogman's 1,000-pound alligator.

Thus, begins the saga of Anthill, which follows the thrilling adventures of a modern-day Huck Finn, whose improbable love of the "strange, beautiful, and elegant" world of ants ends up transforming his own life and the citizens of Nokobee County.

Battling both snakes bites and cynical relatives who just dont understand his consuming fascination with the outdoors, Raff explores the pristine beauty of the Nokobee wildlands. And in doing so, he witnesses the remarkable creation and destruction of four separate ant colonies (The Anthill Chronicles), whose histories are epics that unfold on picnic grounds, becoming a young naturalist in the process.

An extraordinary undergraduate at Florida State University, Raff, despite his scientific promise, opts for Harvard Law School, believing that the environmental fight must be waged in the courtroom as well as the lab. Returning home a legal gladiator, Raff grows increasingly alarmed by rapacious condo developers who are eager to pave and subdivide the wildlands surrounding the Chicobee River. But one last battle awaits him in his epic struggle. In a shattering ending that no reader will forget, Raff suddenly encounters the angry and corrupt ghosts of an old South he thought had all but disappeared, and learns that war is a genetic imperative, not only for ants but for men as well.

©2010 Edward O. Wilson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

Wilson channels Huck Finn in his creative coming-of-age debut novel....Lush with organic details, Wilson's keen eye for the natural world and his acumen for environmental science is on brilliant display in this multifaceted story about human life and its connection to nature.” ( Publishers Weekly)
“A foremost authority on ants, an eloquent environmentalist, and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his exceptional nonfiction, Wilson has written a debut novel of astonishing dimension, acuity, and spirit.” ( Booklist)
“Wilson’s foray into fiction allows him to write more expressively, psychologically, even spiritually about the great web of life, humankind included, and the irrefutable rules for ecological survival." ( Chicago Tribune)

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What listeners say about Anthill

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

You just have to love ants

There are three distinct parts of this book: Rafael's youth, the story of ants and then the fight to save the preserve against development. They are each interesting and reasonably tied together. The narrator was easy to listen to, as well.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Straight forward and honest, this writing relies on none of the expected "hooks" designed to draw in the homogenous reader. For me this is refreshing and freeing. Even without the story line around the charactor of Raff, this book would be worthwhile for the Anthill Chronicles contained within it --a kind of book-within-a book, rich with the never-ending wonder of the natural world.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well read "hard" fiction

This is, mostly, the story of Raphael Semmes Cody (aka Raff), an Alabama boy, following him from age 15 through to 30. It was well written and the ending actually caught me by surprise. I felt that there was an obvious setup very early on in the book and I kept waiting for it to all fall into place, and it didn't.

For the most part the story follows the trials and tribulations of Raff, told mostly in limited third-person (although I feel that it may have strayed into omniscient territory towards the end of the book), narrated (perhaps) by "Uncle" Fred - a close friend and eventual mentor of Raff. It does however veer temporarily, but quite sharply, into a related story. I'm somewhat tempted to classify this as "hard-fiction", in the style of "hard-science-fiction". The related story a technically unstinting novella embedded as part 3 (I think) of this book and it very much put me in mind of Fiasco by Stanisław Lem. Specifically, and somewhat obviously, the chapter about the giant, unrelenting, anthills. It's not just the subject matter though, but the style in which it is written. I greatly enjoyed the lavish detail with which factual knowledge, as well as entertainment, was imparted.

Kevin T. Collins did a spectacular job on the Deep Southern accents and credibly voiced both the narration and the speech of the characters. Again, my only complaint is the bloody music that gets tacked onto the beginning and the end. Especially the end in this case. It starts playing about three sentences from the end of the book in an extremely annoying fashion.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good Nonfiction, Mediocre Fiction

The information about how ant colonies develop, thrive, and die is pretty interesting. Nevertheless, the application of character development is never applied (nor, probably, could ever be applied) to these "characters." That's fine. It's interesting as a sort of nature documentary on the page, but it's the real "story" of the novel that is just pretty bizarre.

The story of the protagonist, Raph Sems Cody, is languid for the two thirds of the novel (discussing, basically, his love of the land over and over and over), proceeds to the description of a rather uneventful education, and then culminates in an incredibly random and illogical climax. The main protagonist, for some strange reason, is singled out for being some radical environmentalist, when he is in fact preaching a very mainstream message. The antagonists that Wilson creates probably exist somewhere at some time in the universe, but their miraculous appearance in this novel just ring false. Also, having the characters' dialog read aloud on the audio file just illustrates the ridiculousness of what they're saying, becoming vessels for abstract objections to the preservation of our natural world. At some moments, I actually thought: Wait, is this a joke? The end result of the novel is a slow and disappointingly unsatisfying story. But, you may never look at ants the same way again!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not Good

After listening to the preview, I thought this would be an interesting story with interesting characters having interesting experiences. WRONG! The sneak preview, which is the first 10 minutes of the book, is the most interesting part - then it's all downhill from there. I am finding it hard to stay awake long enough to finish it. Bad writing, bad narration. Not for me.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

Beautiful, relevant story built on great science. It is also a guide to using the social implications of ecology to solve practical problems.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Preachy!

Wow. This is by far the most preachy book I have ever read, to date. Would have been so much more effective if the author told an interesting story with ironic consequences. Instead we get a story with characters that are not very believable and a strange mid section told from the point of view of the ants. Oddly, this was the most interesting section of the book. The rest should have been edited out.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Tedious

I would have liked this book better if they had not gone into such minute detail about the anthill. They went on and on and on. The story itself was good enough and I might have just enjoyed that if the writer hadn't bored me to death with the anthill details.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

anthill

This book has the potential to be good but the narrator's monitone voice will drive you insane within the first 20 minutes!!!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Dull...

I could manage to listen to only about fifteen minutes of this book. It was dull - a long description of a river plus some really bad dialogue. Sorry about the negativity, but, well, it was dull.

1 person found this helpful