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Nature's Oracle


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction 1. Growing up at Oaklea 2. Finding Life's Pattern 3. Schoolboy at Tonbridge 4. Fisher Found and Lost 5. The Struggle for Altruism 6. Altruism through the Looking Glass 7. Brazilian Break 8. Sex and Death 9. Challenges of Social Life 10. The Price Effect 11. Creativity in a Tight Spot 12. Priority Matters 13. When Leaving is Better than Staying 14. Encounters with Sociobiology 15. The Parasite Paradigm 16. Cooperation without Kinship 17. The Oxford Move 18. Defending the Queen 19. In Tune With Nature 20. Truth at any Price 21. Creative Strategies 22. Through a Glass Darkly 23. The Final Defiance 24. The Edge of Creativity Notes Glossary References Index

About the Author

Ullica Segerstrale is Professor of Sociology at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences. She has published widely on the history and the sociology of science: her publications include 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, as editor), and Nonverbal communication: Where nature meets culture (Erlbaum, 1997, as co-editor). Segerstrale holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard, a MA in communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MS in organic chemistry from the University of Helsinki. She is a Fulbright Fellow, a fellow of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and the recipient of a Senior Researcher Grant from the Academy of Finland, Helsinki.


Ullica Segerstrale... has produced an interesting and readable biography based on Hamilton's letters, published work and the testimonies of friends and family. It is detailed and uncompromising. * A. M. Mannion, The Biologist *
with its wealth of new information and anecdotes, Natures Oracle fills an important gap in our knowledge of recent history of evolutionary biology. Historians interested in this topic, or in Bill Hamiltons ideas, will find in the book a useful springboard for further research. * Guido Caniglia, Journal of the History of Biology *
Segerstrale has done a terrific job. Natures Oracle is a biography truly worthy of a scientist of Hamiltons stature and it will be an invaluable source of insight for anyone interested in the life and science of one of the giants of twentieth-century biology. * J. Arvid Agren, Journal of Genetics *
William Hamilton's name stands above all others in evolutionary biology since the Modern Synthesis of the 1930s and '40s. As John Maynard Smith, with whom he had a troubled relationship, said, "He's the only bloody genius we've got." As geniuses often are, he was a complex character and an exceptional challenge for any biographer. Ullica Segerstrale is ideally qualified to rise to that challenge. She achieves a genuinely affectionate yet warts-and-all portrait of her subject, combined with a good understanding of the deep subtleties of his thinking. Those who loved him, as I did, and those who wish to know more of the astonishing originality and versatility of his contributions to science, will treasure this book. * Richard Dawkins *
This is an outstanding biography of a truly brilliant scientist. Segerstrale beautifully interweaves Hamilton's epic work with the details of his life. * Robert L. Trivers *
Interesting and readable * The Biologist *
Bill Hamilton's remarkable story has now been told: a truly great naturalist, who thought his way to the very heart of evolution by natural selection, completing and expanding the insights of Darwin as he discovered the disorienting and enlightening perspective of the gene itself. * Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen *

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