The thrilling story of the charismatic explorer who Simon Bolivar called "the true discoverer of South America" and the daring expedition that altered the course of science. From 1799 to 1804 German naturalist and adventurer Alexander von Humboldt conducted the first extensive scientific exploration of Latin America.
At the completion of his arduous 6,000-mile journey, he was feted by Thomas Jefferson and presented to Napoleon, and, with the subsequent publication of his findings, he would be hailed as the greatest scientific genius of his age. Humboldt's Cosmos tells the story of this extraordinary man who was equal parts Einstein and Livingstone, and of the adventure that defined his life. Gerard Helferich vividly recounts Humboldt's expedition through the Amazon and over the Andes, highlighting his paradigm-changing discoveries along the way. During the course of the expedition, Humboldt cataloged more than 60,000 plants, set an altitude record climbing the volcano Chimborazo, and became the first to study the great cultures of the Aztecs and Incas. In the process, he revolutionized geology and laid the groundwork for modern sciences such as climatology, oceanography, and geography and his contributions would influence future greats such as Charles Darwin and shape the course of science for centuries to come.,p>Published in time for the bicentennial of the expeditions completion in May 1804, Humboldt's Cosmos is a dramatic tribute to one of history's most audacious adventurers, whom Stephen Jay Gould noted "may well have been the world's most famous and influential intellectual."
Public Domain (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Humboldt to me was a someone I had never heard of. Now, I am amazed at the things this man accomplished in his life. How much richer the whole world would be if we had more men like this.
Things like: Humboldt Current, Humboldt's Penguin now have new meaning, knowing the man behind them.
The book is nicely narrated as well.
I hardly knew anything about Humboldt. This book gave me new appreciation for the genius of the man. Now, wherever I go, I see things named after him-- and rightly so. A great education in a very enjoyable format.
I enjoy non fiction almost exclusively and especially love the history of Rome, the conquest of the Americas, and early American history from the founding of the earliest colonial settlements to the Antebellum rise of the United States.
Science is an ongoing process, a tool, a method and Alexander Von Humboldt used it to understand our world during a time of explosive advance. He was unknown to me previously and my world is more complete now that he is known.
This is the story of a man who would go on to influence Charles Darwin and John Lyell with his scientific rigor and quest for answers. This quest for scientific knowledge lead him to Cuba, South America, Mexico, and to Washington, D.C. to meet perhaps, the embodiment of the Enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson. This is not only the story of one man but of science and this man and his team are literally the 'boots on the ground'. Adventurously traveling through the dark deep jungle of the Amazon to the peaks of the Andes and following in the footsteps of Hernan Cortes in Mexico, Von Humboldt measures all, classifies many, and turns many previous scientific theories on their heads. Of course, not everything goes as planned but Humboldt's vision is never deterred and he should be recognized for his achievements. This book will move us all a little closer to that recognition.
Not sure if it's the writing, but Humboldt comes off a little like the stereotypical German tourist. This strikes me as both good and bad (as German tourists tend to be). Example: the mastiff he decides to take into the jungle with him. His "pet" is ultimately (and maybe inevitably?) eaten. Shows a kind of willfulness while at the same time showing the cheerful way he would face privations on his journeyings ("Just need my dog and I'll be fine").
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