The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

As Heard on The Daily Gardener Podcast:

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Today's book recommendation: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf

"The Invention of Nature" reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age.

His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world, paddling down the Orinoco or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia. Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, Humboldt discovered similarities between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change. He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson.

Wulf also argues that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature.  In The Invention of Nature Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life.
 

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