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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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-21-12

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.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Monroe, LA, United States
  • 04-26-12

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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • COLUMBUS, OH, United States
  • 11-08-12

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • COLUMBUS, OH, United States
  • 08-13-12

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.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • W.W.
  • Geneseo, NY United States
  • 06-16-15

Bound to have a lasting impact on your thinking

The ideas rationed out in this book are a fresh and convincing view if our everyday experience.

Note: The one chapter arguing incorrectness of kin selection was really tedious and almost made me stop listening... Glad I stuck with it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 9 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding!!!!

This is a must read for anyone seeking their place in the world and for those whom have contemplated our current social inequities, how they began and where we're headed.

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Fascinating

A methodological walk-though of humans conquest of Earth. Comparisons of other animals gave helpful analogies of how the human species conquered and adapted to every clime.