Nature's Oracle by Ullica Segerstrale
The Life and Work of W. D. Hamilton

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...the author is so anxious to convey Hamilton's fixation on self-sacrifice that her usual skill in organisation eludes her, and she repeats the emphasis in several identically worded sentences.
-Guardian

Synopsis

W.D.Hamilton (1936-2000) was responsible for a revolution in thinking about evolutionary biology - a revolution that changed our understanding of life itself.

He played a central role in the realization that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes. This provided the solution to the long standing problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself, and in due course resulted in terms like selfish genes, kin selection, and sociobiology becoming familiar to a wider public. Hamilton went on to solve many more major problems, and open up ever new fields - he shaped much of our current
understanding of central problems including the evolution of sexual reproduction and ageing. He became world famous and garnered international prizes.

But this is all in hindsight. In fact, Hamilton's recognition came late - his career is a classic case of misunderstood genius. In this illuminating and moving biography Ullica Segerstrale documents Hamilton's extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer, a risk-taker, an unconventional scientist with a poet's soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind's future.
 

About Ullica Segerstrale

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Ullica Segerstrale is Professor of Sociology at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and director of its Camras Scholars Program. Segerstrale holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard, a MA in communication from the University of Pennsylvania, and MS degrees in both organic chemistry and sociology from the University of Helsinki. She has held Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, and been supported by the American Philosophical Society, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, among others. Segerstrale is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters. She has received a number of awards for teaching, leadership and research. Segerstrale has written and lectured widely internationally on science and values, the ethics of research, and the debates about what it means to be human. Among her books are Defenders of the truth: The battle for science in the sociobiology debate and beyond (Oxford, 2000), Beyond the science wars: The missing discourse about science and society (SUNY Press, 2000), and Nonverbal communication: Where nature meets culture (Erlbaum, 1997). Defenders of the Truth has been translated into Japanese and Beyond the Science Wars into Chinese.
 
Published February 28, 2013 by OUP Oxford. 459 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Nature's Oracle
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jon Turney on Feb 21 2013

...the author is so anxious to convey Hamilton's fixation on self-sacrifice that her usual skill in organisation eludes her, and she repeats the emphasis in several identically worded sentences.

Read Full Review of Nature's Oracle: The Life and... | See more reviews from Guardian

The Economist

Good
on Mar 16 2013

Hamilton himself comes over as what he was—an awkward, naive but deeply sincere individual with a scientist’s passion...

Read Full Review of Nature's Oracle: The Life and... | See more reviews from The Economist

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