The Invention of Nature
The acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world, and in the process created modern environmentalism.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or translating his research into bestselling publications that changed science and thinking. Among Humboldt's most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature, that it is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his influence on iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, and John Muir. This brilliantly researched and masterfully written book shows the myriad fundamental ways in which this vital and lost player in environmental history and science created our understanding of the natural world.