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  • Published: 1 February 2007
  • ISBN: 9780141967141
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

Jaguars And Electric Eels



Around the world in twenty books!

A great, innovative and restless thinker, the young Humboldt (1769-1859) went on his epochal journey to the New World during a time of revolutionary ferment across Europe. This part of his matchless narrative of adventure and scientific research focuses on his time in Venezuela - in the Llanos and on the Orinoco River - riding and paddling, restlessly and happily noting the extraordinary things on every hand.

Great Journeys allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries - but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: Great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.

  • Published: 1 February 2007
  • ISBN: 9780141967141
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

About the author

Alexander von Humboldt

In his lifetime Alexander von Humboldt was a major international celebrity - only Napoleon, it was said, was more well-known. He was born into the Prussian nobility in 1769 and destined for a career in the civil service. In his twenties he combined his position in the Ministry of Mines with his own investigative studies in science, geology and botany. He travelled around Europe, meeting many other adventurers of his age - including Bligh, Banks and Bougainville – and spent many stimulating months with Goethe in Weimar and Jena. He inherited a fortune on the death of his mother and immediately began planning a major expedition. Napoleon's activities thwarted him at every turn, but he succeeded, rather surprisingly, to gain the permission of Carlos IV to visit the Spanish colonies in South America, and set off with the French botanist Aimé Bonpland and many boxes full of scientific instruments, dodging British warships en route. These five extraordinary years of exploration and research gave Humboldt material for a lifetime's writing. But the expenses of publication exhausted his funds and after more than twenty years living in Paris he was obliged to return to Prussia as a chamberlain at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm III. It was hardly to his taste. He did manage one more major expedition across Russia, when he was sixty years old. Tirelessly energetic, he never stopped working and writing. He was mourned worldwide when he died at the age of nearly ninety in 1859.

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