Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2015. Winner of the LA Times Book Prize 2015 (Science and Technology). Shortlisted for the Independent Book Week Award 2016.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast; there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon.
His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story: Humboldt explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world's highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolívar's revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne's Captain Nemo owned all his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, 'the greatest man since the Deluge'.
"Dazzling." (Literary Review)
"Brilliant." (Sunday Express)
"Extraordinary and gripping." (New Scientist)
"A superb biography." (The Economist)
"An exhilarating armchair voyage." (Giles Milton, Mail on Sunday)
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Good. But unecessary chapters on other biographies