The Invention of Nature - Alexander von Humboldt’s New World - by Andrea Wulf.—2015 - 562 pages
An Autodidactic Corner Selection
Alexander von Humboldt
September 14,1769 - Berlin, Germany
May 6, 1859 - Berlin, Germany
This is as interesting a biography as I have read in a long time. I really do not quite know how to start here. In fact it is much more than a very good biography. It shows How Humboldt created modern enviormentalism. He was among if not The first scientist to see human activities as leading to destructive climate changes. He was very opposed to slavery and colonialism. He saw they were interlinked throughout The world. He saw How converting societies once based on subsistence farming to cash crops would create famine, as we have since seen in Inidia and Ireland. This was done to enrich the colonial powers. Humboldt saw and explained this all.
He was by far the most famous scientist of his day. He was an incredibly prolific author on all sorts of topics. He spent five years traveling in South America and climbed The highest peak in the Andes. He traveled far into Russia.
He met and highly impressed Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolívar, who he met while living in Paris.
Among those directly influenced by his writings on nature were Goethe, Darwin, Wordsworth, John Muir founder of The Sierra Club and Thoreau.
For part of his Life, maybe up to 40, he lived from money inherited from his mother and income from sales of his publications. Later in Life, he lived to 89, he was supported by the Prussian Royal family.
Wulf’s book is beautifully done. The chapter on Darwin shows
his impact on The theory of evolution. We see How Reading Humboldt shaped Thoreau’s nature writings.
Andrea Wulf is an award–winning author of six acclaimed books, including the ‘Founding Gardeners’ and ‘The Invention of Nature’ which were both on the New York Times Best Seller List. Her latest book 'The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt' is a graphic novel about Humboldt's daring 5-year expedition through South America, illustrated by Lillian Melcher, and was a Top 10 Bestseller in Germany. She has written for New York Times, the Atlantic, the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian and many others.
She has lectured across the world – from the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society in London to Monticello and the New York Public Library in the US. She’s spoken to audiences from Colombia to Europe, as well as to 15,000 people at the Esri User Conference in San Diego and literary festivals across the world. She is a Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute, a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013. She's a member of PEN American Center, an International Fellow of the Explorer's Club, a member of The Society of Woman Geographers, a Fellow of the Linnean Society, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Andrea is a regular on radio and TV in the US, the UK and in Germany. The ZDF / Smithsonian Humboldt documentary won the Discovery Award 2019 / Science Film Festival. In 2019, she was part of the delegation that accompanied Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on his trip to Ecuador and Colombian ... following Humboldt's footsteps.
The “Brother Gardeners” was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008, the most prestigious non-fiction award in the UK and won the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award. “Founding Gardeners” and 'The Invention of Nature" were both on the New York Times Best Seller List.