The Invention of Nature Alexander von Humboldt’s New World By Andrea Wulf, Instaread summary
Alexander von Humboldt was a dedicated scientist and naturalist that found more value in his scientific research than in politics or heritage. Born into wealth and privilege in conservative Prussia, von Humboldt traveled the world conducting naturalist explorations.
What is powerful about this summary is the emphasis on the historical and social context within which von Humboldt lived. As a child of privilege he was expected to act the part, yet he was profoundly moved by what he saw in the treatment of slaves and was strongly opposed to the practice. That was a rare attitude in the last years of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth.
Alexander von Humboldt also was not an ardent Prussian nationalist, he thought nothing of visiting other countries and corresponding with fellow scientists, even when there were hostilities between the nations. Also, von Humboldt was also very forward looking in his views towards women, he actively encouraged women to attend and participate in his scientific seminars.
This summary also mentions the many significant people of many backgrounds that von Humboldt interacted with. Scientist such as Charles Darwin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar are just some of the people that von Humboldt encountered and engaged in mutually beneficial relationships with.
Alexander von Humboldt was a person far ahead of his time, in a world where nature was to be exploited, he looked ahead to the need for conservation. He was a first class scientist that understood the social cost of slavery and was a proponent of many aspects of gender equality, something that few men would even consider. This summary captures much of the essence of his life and convinces the reader that von Humboldt helped set the foundation for a great deal of transformation in the way humans looked at and understood their planet.
This book was made available for free for review purpose