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From 1799 to 1804 German naturalist and adventurer Alexander von Humboldt conducted the first extensive scientific exploration of Latin America. At the completion of his arduous 6,000-mile journey, he was feted by Thomas Jefferson and presented to Napoleon, and, with the subsequent publication of his findings, he would be hailed as the greatest scientific genius of his age.
Humboldt’s Cosmos tells the story of this extraordinary man who was equal parts Einstein and Livingstone, and of the adventure that defined his life. Gerard Helferich vividly recounts Humboldt’s expedition through the Amazon and over the Andes, highlighting his paradigm-changing discoveries along the way. During the course of the expedition, Humboldt cataloged more than 60,000 plants, set an altitude record climbing the volcano Chimborazo, and became the first to study the great cultures of the Aztecs and Incas. In the process, he revolutionized geology and laid the groundwork for modern sciences such as climatology, oceanography, and geography—and his contributions would influence future greats such as Charles Darwin and shape the course of science for centuries to come.
Published in time for the bicentennial of the expedition’s completion in May 1804, Humboldt’s Cosmos is a dramatic tribute to one of history’s most audacious adventurers, whom Stephen Jay Gould noted "may well have been the world’s most famous and influential intellectual."
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