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Invasion Biology, the study of biota redistributed via human agency, has traditionally traced its founding to Charles Elton's 1958 book The Ecology of invasions by Animals and Plants. But there were many substantial, scientific pre-Eltonian accounts and analyses of redistributed biota dating back at least to the mid-1700s; and non-Eltonian treatments appeared into the late 1950s. Elton began writing on the topic by 1925. From 1931 to 1948 he developed his ideas on conservation in association with Aldo Leopold. Their "competitive collaboration" is explored and documented, showing that each supported and contextualized the other. Elton was, in part, inspired to write The Ecology of invasions by Animals and Plants in dissatisfied response to an earlier effort by American Marston Bates. The two authors, and these works, are compared and contrasted. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals is analyzed in detail, showing how Elton framed his arguments in terms of warfare and cold-war era nuclear alarmism, making a plea for action without providing a strong theoretical basis for preventing the redistribution of biota. The republication of Elton's book in 2000 incited a new round of interpretation, but even while its proponents hailed the book as invasion biology's 'bible,' they prepared to replace it with more modern texts. The narrative shows how ideas about the origins of life on earth, the role of humans in nature, a sense of place and biogeographical belonging, and concerns about the unintended consequences of human agency motivated scientists to attempt to impute order to, and impose it upon, the historically contingent distribution of biota.