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The Ants Hardcover – March 28 1990
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“The Ants is a stunningly attractive volume that belongs as much on the coffee table as it does on the lab bench… The 20 chapters are organized thematically, and they are written in a clear, accessible and engaging style… Only Hölldobler and Wilson could have written such a comprehensive and integrated treatment of ant biology. It represents a herculean labour of love, and it sets a new standard for synthetic works on major taxa… The Ants will undoubtedly remain in active service for decades, guiding both tourists and seasoned travellers through a strange and wonderful world.”―Donald H. Feener, Jr., et al., Nature
“While it is impossible to write a definitive tome and make it 100 percent transparent to the nonscientist, this volume achieves the utmost clarity… Science is rarely good literature. The Ants is an exalting exception.”―Thomas E. Lovejoy, New York Times Book Review
“Hölldobler and Wilson’s mighty tome will surely take its place among the greatest of all entomology books…it will inspire many new generations of students with its blend of scholarship, enthusiasm, and unabashed delight.”―Science
“This magnificent and long-awaited volume is the definitive work on [ants]… Every imaginable area of interest to a biologist, a sociologist, even a curious citizen, is covered… At once remarkably exhaustive and parsimonious, the book does not stint on exhaustive detail wherever such detail is required.”―William Brown, Scientific American
“The Ants is not only another milestone in a remarkable career but also a high point in crossover publishing. For the specialist, Hölldobler and Wilson bring elegance and order to a complex subject. For the curious layman, there is a glimpse into the workings of evolution.”―R. Z. Sheppard, Time
“The beauty of this heavily illustrated tome is that it conveys this message to both the lay reader and the professional entomologist with equal aplomb. For the interested but ignorant, Hölldobler and Wilson provide a gentle introduction into the complex and bizarre reality of life as an ant… This myrmecological bible―with its 50-page key to ant classification, 60 pages of detailed anatomical drawings and hundreds of other sketches and photos―is a scientific and artistic accomplishment of historic significance. Yet it succeeds in convincing even the most casual reader of―as the first chapter is titled―the Importance of Ants.”―Rick Weiss, Washington Post
- ASIN : 0674040759
- Publisher : Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; First Edition (March 28 1990)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 746 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780674040755
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674040755
- Item weight : 3.31 kg
- Dimensions : 24.79 x 4.37 x 32.31 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #428,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Canada
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Space prohibits a detailed review, so I will list instead the parts of the book that I consider most interesting: 1. The variation in the mode of colony founding among the different species of ants. 2. The mating habits of ants, in particular the female-calling and aggregation syndromes. 3. The description of the experiment showing the role of male pheromones in carpenter ants. 4. The statistical analysis of the time of swarming. 5. The comparison between different hypotheses for polyandry. 6. The universal occurence across species of 'nanitics' or 'minims' in the first brood and their ergonomic advantages. 7. The parental manipulation and offspring consent hypotheses for the origin of worker castes. 8. Eusociality and chromosome number as a strategy for reducing genetic variance. 9. The role of learning in colony-level recognition. 10. The presence of conflict between queens and workers in the management of new queens and males. 11. The existence of modulatory communication in ants (this was definitely the most interesting discussion in the book ). 12. The steps in the evolution of physical castes. 13. The result that colony-level selection is the opposite of what one would expect from individual-level selection, the later tending to improving phenotypes. 14. The use of allometric space to model evolutionary optimization. 15. The capability of associative learning in ants. 16. Ant-termite warfare. 17. The entire chapter on army ants.
The book can be a bit technical at times. It used advanced (to me anyway) entomological terms that can sometimes make understanding some of the topics difficult. Though it is clearly targeted at an adult audience, I would not hesitate to give this book to a bright child who is particularly interested in ants.
Just about anything you might want to know about the ant is covered. The book did a good job of explaining some questions that I had always had of ants. For example, how can the queen continue to lay fertilized eggs endlessly without a "partner".
The only topic I might have liked seen described at greater length would have been keeping ants. How to excavate a colony. How to obtain a queen. And son on.
The information is exhaustive ranging from the extremely technical to the conversational. Parts of the book will be mainly of interest to the hardcore entomologist but the majority of the book is easily understood by the layman, well maybe not always easily but it's not too difficult and it's worth the effort.
I can't imagine a better or more complete text on the subject of ants. Anyone with any real interest in the subject should not be without this book.
This is a fascinating, indispensible book for anyone interested in ants. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I have owned this book for three years and still haven't stopped reading it, probably never will. It is jam-packed with interesting and little known aspects of eusocialism in the ants, easily as diverse as its subject.
This is a semi-technical book, and entomological scientific jargon is used ubiquitously, so if you aren't interested in using the glossary frequently just to understand what you're reading, it may not be for you, but for the avid ant-watcher or scientist interested in social evolution, this is it.
With the incredible drawings (including representative pictures from every known ant genera) and informative graphs and charts that shed light on even the most complex and difficult to understand socio-biological patterns, it is beautiful to behold and fun to browse and just pluck little tidbits at random. Even the expanded table of contents is thought-provoking and fun to read.
"The Ants" does more than simply summarize current knowledge about ants. It goes into details of the many different ways in which ants have evolved social structures and critically evaluates theories of ant colony dynamics and eusocial evolution.
Top reviews from other countries
I have the hardback version and the kindle version. I will review both separately here.
Hardback: a spectacular book with 732 large sized pages full of fascinating, detailed text, awesome photographs, graphs, tables, charts and more. The book is of vary good quality both in binding and pages. Written in 1990, and although there have been some advances in information about ants since it's publication, it is, nevertheless, the most comprehensive, authoritative and reliable book of it's kind on this fascinating subject. Many people, I hazard a guess, would not read it from cover to cover but just look up the information they are looking for via the contents page and/or index. However if you are a serious enthusiast I would suggest that you have a go at reading it cover to cover. The information it contains will amaze you.
Kindle version: this really does convert to the kindle extremely well, the only let down is the kindles monochrome display; you'll not appreciate the beautiful colour photos as much. Some of the data in the charts might be small but you can always increase the size of the text. The conversion is vary professional; no spelling mistakes or awful formatting. Using the kindle app for iPad I was able to read this book on my iPad 2 even better than with the kindle. Due to the huge size and weight of the physical book, this e-version is ideal when travelling.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2019