Anthill
by E. O. Wilson









Anthill
by E. O. Wilson

Summary
"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 1000-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 don't understand his consuming fascination with the outdoors, Raff explores the pristine beauty of the Nokobee wildland. 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.Part thriller, part parable, Anthill will not only transfix readers with its stunning twists and startling revelations, but will provide readers with new insights into the meaning of survival in our rapidly changing world.

Characters
NameRaff Cody
GenderMale
Age30s
OccupationLawyer
AttributesEscaped the humid summers in Alabama by exploring the remote wilderness with his cousin; snuck onto the property of a multiple murderer to see his rumored pet alligator; wants to save the world from mankind; fascinated with the outdoors, especially with ants; witnessed the creation and destruction of four ant colonies; became a naturalist; attended Harvard Law to become an environmental lawyer; trying to preserve the wildlands from condo development


Genre
Fiction
Coming of age
Inspirational

Topics
Cousins
Teenage boys
Summer
Wilderness areas
Insects
Naturalists
Environmentalists
Real estate development
Conservationists
Nature
Lawyers

Setting
Alabama -- South (U.S.)





"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 1000-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 don't understand his consuming fascination with the outdoors, Raff explores the pristine beauty of the Nokobee wildland. 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.Part thriller, part parable, Anthill will not only transfix readers with its stunning twists and startling revelations, but will provide readers with new insights into the meaning of survival in our rapidly changing world.





He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929. He is currently Pellegrino University Research Professor & Honorary Curator in Entomology of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. He is on the Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International & the American Museum of Natural History. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.





Raphael Semmes Cody, half Mobile, AL, gentry and the rest, Clayville, AL, redneck, is a lonely kid who revels in summers spent exploring the Nokobee swampland, an environmentally sensitive tract bordering Florida's panhandle, home to longleaf pines, swallowtail kites, snakes, gators, and bugs. Best of all, Nokobee is where Raff Cody crosses paths with Florida State science Professor Fred Norville, who recognizes a fellow naturalist in the calm, self-contained young man who prefers the company of ants to that of people. Norville's influence and the Semmes family's money combine to secure Raff a first-class education in nearby Tallahassee, a law degree from Harvard, and the opportunity to return to Mobile with a plan to protect Nokobee for future generations. Famed naturalist Wilson, himself a Harvard-educated Alabama native, has won Pulitzers for his nonfiction (On Human Nature; The Ants). Touted as a novel, this book reads more like creative nonfiction, especially in light of the jarring inclusion of Raff's 70-page thesis on the Trailhead ant colony. Verdict Though his characters come off as one-dimensional, Wilson excels at describing the pungent smells and tranquil silence of the disappearing wetlands of Alabama. Recommend to readers of authors known for evoking a strong sense of place, like Marjorie Rawlings, Peter Matthiessen, or Marjory Stoneman Douglas. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/09.]-Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.





A Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction author and Harvard entomology professor, Wilson (The Ants) channels Huck Finn in his creative coming-of-age debut novel. Split into three parallel worlds-ants, humans, and the biosphere-the story follows young Raff Cody, who escapes the humid summers in Clayville, Ala., by exploring the remote Nokobee wilderness with his cousin, Junior. In one adventure, sneaking onto the property of a reputed multiple murderer to peek at his rumored 1,000-pound pet alligator, 15-year-old Raff faces down the barrel of a rifle. Raff's aversion to game hunting, ant fascination, Boy Scout achievements, and Harvard education all support his core need to remain a "naturalist explorer." A remarkable center section meticulously details the life and death of an ant colony. Nearing 30, Raff's desire to preserve the Nokobee reserve from greedy real estate developers galvanizes an effort to protect the sacred land and a surprise violent ending brings everything full circle. 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. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved





*Starred Review* Raphael Semmes Cody of Clayville, Alabama, nicknamed Raff, wants to please his mismatched parents, but he isn't comfortable with his working-class father's rules for manliness or the ambitions of his mother's wealthy family. He instead finds meaning, beauty, and a calling in a tract of old-growth longleaf pine forest surrounding Lake Nokobee, a rare and vulnerable swath of wilderness Wilson describes with bewitching precision and profound appreciation. 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. As Raff evolves from an ardent boy naturalist to a zealous student enthralled by a mound-building ant species to a Harvard-trained lawyer, Wilson dramatizes conflicts of great complexity and consequence within parallel worlds, becoming the veritable Homer of Antdom as he brings ant colonies in peace and at war to startlingly vivid life. As gentlemanly Raff walks a fine line in his heroic efforts to save the precious, pristine Nokobee Woods, violence, a force Wilson perceives as intrinsic to this pitiless world, percolates. With lyrical exactitude, empathy for all life, and a shocking conclusion, Wilson's wise, provocative novel of the interaction between humankind and the rest of nature expresses a resonant earth ethic.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist






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