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Download The Social Conquest of Earth Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward  O. Wilson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (565 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edward O. Wilson Narrator: Jonathan Hogan Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s preeminent biologists, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the author of more than twenty-five books. The defining work in a remarkable career, The Social Conquest of Earth boldly addresses age-old questions while delving into the biological sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts.

Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while “overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover magazine).

Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.

From the most celebrated heir to Darwin, this is a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Religion. Sports. War. Biologist E. O. Wilson says our drive to join a group—and to fight for it—is what makes us human.” 


  • “Wilson’s examples of insect eusociality are dazzling…There are obvious parallels with human practices like war and agriculture, but Wilson is also sensitive to the differences…This book offers a detailed reconstruction of what we know about the evolutionary histories of these two very different conquerors. Wilson’s careful and clear analysis reminds us that scientific accounts of our origins aren’t just more accurate than religious stories; they are also a lot more interesting.”  

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A sweeping argument about the biological origins of complex human culture. It is full of both virtuosity and raw, abrupt assertions that are nonetheless well-crafted and captivating…It is fascinating to see such a distinguished scientist optimistic about the future.” 

    Wall Street Journal

  • The Social Conquest of the Earth has set off a scientific furor…The controversy is fueled by a larger debate about the evolution of altruism. Can true altruism even exist? Is generosity a sustainable trait? Or are living things inherently selfish, our kindness nothing but a mask? This is science with existential stakes.” 

    New Yorker

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, April 2012
  • A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Booklist Editors’ Choice Selection for Nonfiction: Science
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by H Wesselius | 2/16/2014

    " I enjoy the quick summation of human evolution, migration and culture but the constant references to the insect world for analogies began to grate and bore me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Goodson Gary | 1/30/2014

    " A very good book, quite thought provoking. I especially found the last quarter of the book most meaningful as he talked about religion and the creative drive of humanity. He saw a connection between the creative impulse and science. They both have their beginning in the imagination, creating a picture in the mind of what can be and then making it happen. The author has no use for religion. In evolutionary terms, it has outlived its usefulness. Religion only reinforces ignorance and bigotry. I guess I would disagree with him on that point, but I still found the book interesting and challenging. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jerry | 1/30/2014

    " Provides interesting insights into human nature based on evolutionary biology. Yet discards certain viewpoints with little evidence. Too focused on evolutionary biology. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by George | 1/10/2014

    " A couple of chapters can be skipped, unless you are really into details on insect colonies, but the over overall perspective of social evolution is amazing. "

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About the Author

Edward O. Wilson is regarded as one of the world’s most preeminent biologists and naturalists. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Ants; he also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his book On Human Nature. Some of his other awards include the US National Medal of Science, the International Prize for Biology, the Nierenberg Prize, and the Crafoord Prize, considered the highest award given in the field of ecology. His first fiction novel, Anthill: A Novel, was published in 2010 and is a New York Times bestseller. A sought-after consultant and expert, Wilson has served on the board of directors of the American Museum of Natural History, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund. He was named one of the twenty-five most influential Americans by Time magazine in 1995 and one of the century’s 100 leading environmentalists by Audubon magazine in 2000. Currently, he is the University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard, and he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts with his wife.