E.O. Wilson’s latest book, Letters to a Young Scientist, was warmly reviewed this weekend in the June 2, 2013 issue of the New York Times Book Review. Writer Bill Streever calls Letters to a Young Scientist “first and foremost a book about passion and the delight of discovery.” Streever, writing in the form of a letter to Wilson—a similar literary device Wilson uses in the book—continues:
“Your good counsel reveals how profoundly this kind of dialogue is missing from our science departments. Young scientists must hear from older scientists. They need to learn what has inspired their mentors, what has sustained them and what has slowed them down. They need to hear about what it means to experience science as a vocation, and the variety of ways they can pursue it, not only in the academy but also in government agencies, nonprofit organizations and the private sector. And scientists at all levels need to be reminded to “stay on the path you’ve chosen, and . . . travel on it as far as you can. The world needs you—badly.”
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into his new book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career—both his successes and his failures—and his motivations for becoming a biologist.
At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans’ depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being’s modest place in the planet’s ecosystem in his readers. Letters to a Young Scientist, like all of his books, bears Wilson’s distinctive voice and his ability to traverse disciplines and communities (while quoting from Vladimir Nabokov, Jimmy Cagney, and Floyd Patterson along the way) to convey big ideas.
Read more about Letters to a Young Scientist.