Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent

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Penguin Books Limited, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 310 pages
6 Reviews
One of the greatest nineteenth-century scientist-explorers, Alexander von Humboldt traversed the tropical Spanish Americas between 1799 and 1804. By the time of his death in 1859, he had won international fame for his scientific discoveries, his observations of Native American peoples and his detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of the 'new continent'. The first to draw and speculate on Aztec art, to observe reverse polarity in magnetism and to discover why America is called America, his writings profoundly influenced the course of Victorian culture, causing Darwin to reflect: 'He alone gives any notion of the feelings which are raised in the mind on first entering the Tropics'.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ChrisConway - LibraryThing

A fascinating journey to the new world, with abundant descriptions and rich anecdotes. For example: "Francisco Lozano, a labourer who lived in this village, presented a curious physiological ... Read full review

Review: Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent (Penguin Classics)

User Review  - Jordan - Goodreads

My opinion is probably not the best judge of this book. I have very little interest in natural history, so this book (which I read for a class) was not entertaining to me. It is interesting to analyze ... Read full review

About the author (1995)

Baron Alexander von Humboldt was born in Berlin, Germany. During his early school years, he studied such subjects as geology, biology, metallurgy, and mining, and his main interest was in nature and other lands. In 1796 Humboldt traveled to the German Alps, where he measured the atmospheric pressure, humidity, and oxygen content of the air. Shortly after, in 1799, he was granted permission by the Spanish king to explore Spain's mysterious holdings in the Americas. For the next five years, he and his companion, Aime Bonplaud, explored the region that is now Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. While in the Andes, he fell prey to mountain sickness, which led him to become the first person to explain that the sickness was caused by a lack of oxygen. During these travels, he and Bonplaud collected 60,000 plant specimens; mapped the area; and studied its climates, bodies of water, wildlife, and minerals. The findings of this exhaustive adventure were published in a 23-volume series, Voyage de Humboldt et Bonplaud (1805--34). In 1829, at the invitation of the Russian government, Humboldt made an expedition to Russia and Siberia, categorizing, observing, and recording as he went. One of the results of this expedition was a 5-volume work, Kosmos (1845-62), in which he tried to combine the vague ideals of the eighteenth century with the exact scientific requirements of his own. Considered one of the founders of modern geography, Humboldt showed geographers that there was more to the study of geography than the shape of Earth and its regions. He gave them a system of geographic inquiry, he was the first to draw an isothermal map, studied tropical storms and volcanoes, and pioneered the field of terrestrial magnetism. Equally important, he was responsible for one of the first examples of international scientific cooperation, which led to the formation of a system of meteorological stations throughout Russia and Great Britain. During one of his many expeditions, he measured the temperature of the current with which his ship sailed from Lima, Peru, to Acapulco, Mexico. Later this current was named the Humboldt Current in his honor.

Jason Wilson has written has written for the Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Salon.

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