As Reviewed by Luciano Lupini: A truly wonderful book. One that should be used as a textbook in History in high school. Easily readable, it takes the reader on a voyage of far reaching proportions. What is it that makes this book so pleasurable and instructive? A fresh approach to the evolution of knowledge and science as experienced historically by the pioneers. The exploration in retrospective of the discovery of the concept of time and the clock, the compass, the telescope, the microscope and the evolutionary description of the knowledge that mankind acquired through these instruments and the bold steps of the pioneers that wondered around the seas, the cosmos, the mind, etc.. Why is it that modern culture, the different cultures and science are the way they are ? You will find a lot of answers about how this came to happen in the book by the former Librarian of Congress and senior historian of the Smithsonian Institution. After I read this book, the promise made in the Washington Post Book World's review to it, I found fulfilled: "few indeed will be the readers who do not themselves become discoverers....." This book is one of the most outstanding discoveries that I made in my quest for knowledge. You must not overlook it.
The Discoverers, by Daniel J. Boorstein, is an absolutely amazing book describing the difficult process of discovering the truths we currently take for granted. How did humans discover what time is, and how did they decide to measure it? What's on the other side of Asia? What, microbes? Things smaller than you can see with your eye? Someone had to break the ground to discover what everyone knows today, and "The Discoverers" explains how, despite the odds, it was done. Boorstein also enlightens his readers on the historic accomplishments of non-European countries. Everyone knows Columbus sailed the Atlantic in 1492, but not everyone knows the Chinese were sailing ships 4 times the size of the Nina in the 14th century. This ships sailed from ports in Eastern China, around Africa and into the Mediterranean to conduct trade with the Arabs! The Discoverers not only tells the tales of how we started learning about our world, it will be a portal of discovery for Boorstein's readers, too.
Koestler did it first with The Sleepwalkers - and my informants tell me that a young whippersnapper called Bryson has done it since - but this is a rattling good read and a pinnacle of a certain kind of popular education. This is very largely the human story, minus the fighting, the praying and all that tiresome carnality; these men look outwards. Its cunning structure, 82 shorter-than-chapter segments grouped in fifteen parts within four 'books', lures one effortlessly on. I was obliged to return my library copy at page 350, barely halfway through. A library in itself, it would make perfect fodder for that world cruise you are doubtless contemplating as we speak
Boorstin's hot on the detail. Among the O's alone are Abraham Ortelius, Andreas Olsiander and Odoric of Pordenone.We also learn about Santorio Santorio (sic), inventor of the thermometer(!), the extraordinary multitasker (and precursor of Galileo) Simon Stevin and the pioneer microscopist, 'incomparable' Marcello Malpighi, whose story is as stirring as Galileo's own. And there's still Newton, Darwin and Einstein - the Holy Trinity if you will - to come. Sample: when Galen's classical Greek anatomical treatise became newly available in 1525, the leading Parisian anatomist (he taught the great Vesalius) treated it as Holy Writ. 'He and other Galenists believed that the most important contribution to a better knowledge of the human body would be a more accurate Latin rendering of the purest Greek text of Galen' - still quite a long way from an actual human body!
Continued Feb '16 Likewise Dioscorides 'ceased to be a teacher [and] became a text'. Picked up where I left off, and I've been doing some exploring of my own. No Lavoisier? (A casual mensh on page 417, unindexed, doesn't cut it.) NO PRIESTLEY?? All of chemistry crammed into - wait for it - four pages? Einstein, four cursory references? (Petrarch gets eleven.) My star rating and title remain for now; but these days Dan would have done it diff'rent. Deffo
The Discovers is the first book of Daniel Borstein's Knowledge Trilogy. In this book, Borstein traces the history of man's desire to learn and to understand the world around him. Initially, I was attracted to this book because it reminded me of the goal of continuous learning. What better way to develop a solid background of learning than to read about the history of learning? In other words I set lofty expectations for this book which ultimately couldn't be met. World history is too massive to fit into a 700 page book. I did enjoy reading some of Borstein's anecdotes; however, whenever I would get excited by a topic, the section would be over and I would be on to a new topic. Despite these shortcomings, I'd still recommend this book. I never was bored by this book, which is quite rare for such a large work. I enjoyed his style and will probably read the remainder of the books in his trilogy, The Creators and The Seekers.
One other reviewer spoke of the intense power of Boorstin's pen to carry us through history on an excellent adventure. The Discoverers is--I think one of the best books ever written. Boorstin taps a phenomonal generalist perspective created by his bookish life, and wows the the reader over and over again. His imprint not so much on knowledge, but on understanding, will be discovered again and again and again for generations to come.
An unbelievable portrait of the history of man. From ancient Babylonians and the early Roman Empire to present day, Boorstin shows us how men and women through the Ages have expanded their minds and instruments, reaching past the sceptics and those who would keep the status quo. Boorstin 's work is thorough and blended well. I never thought a book of this nature would capture my attention so completely.
My only regret concerning this book is that it wasn't required reading in high school. It is the only history book that I have ever read that has helped History come alive with a blend of scholarly and common sense perspectives. I find it inspirational for my professional pursuits.
This book is still one of my favorites. I've bought and given away this book numerous times and need another copy. I really liked how the book puts you into the timeframe and mentality of the era before a discovery occurs that changes it all. Packed with information.
I love it. It's written in a way that most people should be able to understand the language used.It's a fountain of knowledge and intriguing. Highly recommended for people who want to broaden their knowledge.