The Discoverers

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 26, 2011 - Science - 768 pages
4 Reviews
An original history of man's greatest adventure: his search to discover the world around him.  In the compendious history, Boorstin not only traces man's insatiable need to know, but also the obstacles to discovery and the illusion that knowledge can also put in our way. Covering time, the earth and the seas, nature and society, he gathers and analyzes stories of the man's profound quest to understand his world and the cosmos.
 

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Of course no book seeking to discuss man's discoveries throughout time (including, of course, time itself) could be anywhere near comprehensive, nor could it be all inclusive. Boorstin's work is nonetheless impressive in its adroit treatment of a sweeping range of subjects with both brevity and clarity and enough specificity to truly enlighten. Boorstin filled in many gaps in my own knowledge of discovery and will no doubt produce the same effect in others. He also provides one of the most unique notes sections I've ever encountered, an annotated bibliography of additional reading on literally ever topic covered within his work. This is perhaps the most valuable reward offered to those seeking depth not found within this formidable book. Not surprising, given that he's a former Librarian of Congress. 

Contents

FROM SUN TIME TO CLOCK TIME
26
THE MISSIONARY CLOCK
56
THE EARTH AND THE SEAS
79
The Appeal of Symmetry
92
The Prison of Christian Dogma
100
A Flat Earth Returns
107
PATHS TO THE EAST 15 Pilgrims and Crusaders
116
How the Mongols Opened the Way
124
From Qualities to Quantities
368
The Microscope of Nature
376
SCIENCE GOES PUBLIC 5 o A Parliament of Scientists
386
From Experience to Experiment
394
God Said Let Newton Beſ
401
Priority Becomes the Prize
408
CATALOGUING THE WHOLE CREATION 54 Learning to Look
420
The Invention of Species
429

Missionary Diplomats
128
The Discovery of Asia
134
The Land Curtain Comes Down
139
DOUBLING THE WORLD 20 Ptolemy Revived and Revised
146
Portuguese Sea Pioneers
156
Beyond the Threatening Cape
165
To India and Back
172
Why Not the Arabs?
178
The Chinese Reach Out
186
An Empire without Wants
195
THE AMERICAN SURPRISE 27 The Wandering Vikings
204
Dead End in Vinland
209
The Power of the Winds
217
The Enterprise of the Indies
224
Fair Winds Soft Words and Luck
231
Paradise Found and Lost
235
Naming the Unknown
244
SEA PATHS TO EVERYWHERE 34 A World of Oceans
256
The Reign of Secrecy
267
Knowledge Becomes Merchandise
271
The Ardors of Negative Discovery
278
NATURE
291
SEEING THE INVISIBLE 38 Into the Mists of Paradox
294
The Witness of the Naked Eye
305
A Vision Troubled and Surprised
312
Caught in the Cross Fire
322
New Worlds Within
327
Galileo in China
332
PART X INSIDE OURSELVES 44 A Mad Prophet Points the Way
338
The Tyranny of Galen
344
From Animals to Man
351
Unseen Currents Within
361
Specimen Hunting
436
Stretching the Past
446
In Search of the Missing Link
457
Paths to Evolution
464
SOCIETY
477
WIDENING THE COMMUNITIES OF KNOWLEDGE 60 The Lost Arts of Memory
480
Empire of the Learned
489
The Duplicating Impulse
498
The Art of Artificial Writing
510
Communities of the Vernacular
517
Transforming the Book
524
Books Go Public
533
The Island of Islam
539
Toward a World Literature
547
OPENING THE PAST 69 The Birth of History
558
Christianity Gives Direction
566
Revising the Record
574
Explorers among the Ruins
581
To Wake the Dead
588
Latitudes of Time
596
The Discovery of Prehistory
603
History as Therapy
613
PART XV SURVEYING THE PRESENT 77 All Mankind Is One
626
The Shock of the Primitive
636
A Science of Culture
646
An Expanding Universe of Wealth
652
Learning from Numbers
667
The Infinite and the Infinitesimal
675
Some Reference Notes
685
Acknowledgments
715
Index
719
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About the author (2011)

Daniel J. Boorstin was the author of The Americans, a trilogy (The Colonial Experience; The National Experience, and The Democratic Experience) that won the Francis Parkman Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1989, he received the National Book Award for lifetime contribution to literature. He was the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and for twelve years served as the Librarian of Congress. He died in 2004.

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