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The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science: Costa & Royal Society Prize Winner Paperback – 24 Mar 2016
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A big, magnificent, adventurous book - so vividly written and daringly researched - a geographical pilgrimage and an intellectual epic! Brilliant, surprising, and thought-provoking . . . a major achievement (RICHARD HOLMES, author of The Age of Wonder and Coleridge)
A truly wonderful book . . . Andrea Wulf has told the tale with such brio, such understanding, such depth. The physical journeyings, all around South America when it was virtually terra incognita, are as exciting as the journeys of Humboldt's mind into astronomy, literature, philosophy and every known branch of science. This is one of the most exciting intellectual biographies I have ever read, up there with Lewes's Goethe and Ray Monk's Wittgenstein (A N Wilson)
Andrea Wulf's marvellous book should put this captivating eighteenth century German scientist, traveller and opinion-shaper back at the heart of the way we look at the world . . . irresistible and consistently absorbing life of a man whose discoveries have shaped the way we see (MIRANDA SEYMOUR, author of Noble Endeavours: A History of England and Germany)
Andrea Wulf is a writer of rare sensibilities and passionate fascinations. I always trust her to take me on unforgettable journeys through amazing histories of botanical exploration and scientific unfolding. Her work is wonderful, her language sublime, her intelligence unflagging (ELIZABETH GILBERT, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love)
Engrossing . . . Wulf successfully combines biography with an intoxicating history of his times (Kirkus)
Extraordinary, and often still sadly relevant too (Wanderlust)
The phrase 'lost hero of science' in the subtitle of [Wulf's] book is no exaggeration . . . A big book about a big subject, written with scholarship and enthusiasm (Irish Examiner)
In her coruscating account, historian Andrea Wulf reveals an indefatigable adept of close observation with a gift for the long view (Nature)
[A] gripping study . . . No one who reads this brilliant book is likely to forget Humboldt (New Scientist)
This book sets out to restore Humboldt to his rightful place in the pantheon of natural scientists. In the process Wulf does a great deal more. This meticulously researched work - part biography, part cabinet of curiosity - takes us on an exhilarating armchair voyage through some of the world's least hospitable regions (Giles Milton Mail on Sunday)
Before Longitude no one remembered John Harrison. The Invention of Nature does the same for Alexander von HumboldtSee all Product description
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This book won the Costa Biography Award in 2015 and it is a good read. Humboldt's life has been well-researched here and there is a long list of sources and references in the bibliography.
I knew about the current and squid being named after him but I had no idea how prolific his thinking, doing and writing were.
This is a triumph of a book, well written with an easy style and so jam packed with facts and stats that it probably merits another read.
A fitting tribute to a scientific powerhouse who embraced life and pushed away the boundaries of thinking. A colossus of a man about whom more should be taught in schools - with this book more widely read.
Although little known today Humboldt created our view of nature and ecology. His influence led to the creation of national parks and concern for the environment, he inspired others, and lived a full and fascinating life - and this book relates the tale in very engaging way. Andrea Wulf has clearly researched very thoroughly, but this is no dry academic work. It is biography, travelogue, popular science, and history writing of the highest order. This is synthesis at its best - and I suspect Humboldt would have been delighted. I will look forward to the author's next book very eagerly.
I read a great deal - and for me this is one of the best books I have ever read
A long book, but well written, structured and engaging.
It's magnificently detailed, and gives you a wonderful glance into a completely different era. The book is very large, and yet never actually gets boring - a skill in itself. One of the most interesting things is the over-lapping timelines of other famous authors, writers, scientists and explorers. For some reason I thought it was far more spread out, but having read this book, it's amazing how closely discoveries were made and by whom.
Being an animal and nature nut, I kept thinking "Oh, that must be the person who discovered this, or that" especially when it came to the names of some of the animals and plants that are around today. Although it is somewhat sad that some of the animals mentioned, such as the Purple Parrot he discovered in the Amazon are no longer with us (Glaucus Macaw).
You can really feel the breadth and depth of this amazing man's talents, and his true love for nature. Andrea Wulf has made what could otherwise be a fairly boring subject interesting and enjoyable.
A thoroughly well researched and outstanding biography it is worthy of an immediate second read. I also enjoyed the introduction to those who followed in the wake of Humboldt, presenting new subjects for future biographical reads.
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