cover image In Search of Nature

In Search of Nature

Edward Osborne Wilson. Island Press, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-55963-215-7

In this collection of essays, which reprises the themes of his scientific career, Pulitzer Prize winner Wilson (The Ants and On Human Nature) contrasts wild nature with human nature as two similar products of evolution, focusing on both genetic and cultural change over an immense period of time. The first section explores various species' success at adapting, including a discussion of how the universal aversion to snakes might have evolved in primates and a look at ants' remarkable social systems. In the second section, Wilson, entomology curator of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, deals with altruism and aggression, introducing the concept of sociobiology. He argues that culture is created and shaped by biological processes that may be altered in response to cultural change. In the final section, he explores biodiversity's fundamental importance to the continued existence of humanity. Challenging and provocative, these essays have been published previously in popular and scientific journals. 10,000 first printing. (Sept.)