The Invention of Nature (by Andrea Wulf)


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Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist — more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast, there’s a penguin, a giant squid — even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon.

His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy’s Own story: Humboldt explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world’s highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolivar’s revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo owned all his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, ‘the greatest man since the Deluge’.

Taking us on a fantastic voyage in his footsteps – racing across anthrax-infected Russia or mapping tropical rivers alive with crocodiles – Andrea Wulf shows why his life and ideas remain so important today. Humboldt predicted human-induced climate change as early as 1800, and The Invention of Nature traces his ideas as they go on to revolutionise and shape science, conservation, nature writing, politics, art and the theory of evolution. He wanted to know and understand everything and his way of thinking was so far ahead of his time that it’s only coming into its own now. Alexander von Humboldt really did invent the way we see nature.

Product Details

Dimensions / Weight / Publisher Details

Paperback: 402 pages
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Date: 15 September 2015
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345806291
ISBN-13: 9780345806291
Product Dimensions: 168 x 201 x 32mm | 341g

About the Author

Andrea Wulf is the author of five acclaimed books, including “The Brother Gardeners”, “Chasing Venus” and “Founding Gardeners”. and the co-author of “This Other Eden”. She trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art in London and is a full-time writer. She also writes book reviews for New York Times, Sunday Book Review and the Wall Street Journal. She was the 2013 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence, and lectures widely across the world.