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The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt…
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The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt (Pantheon Graphic Library)

by Andrea Wulf

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The irony of the first line, "Let me introduce myself. My name is Alexander von Humboldt, and I'm the most famous scientist and explorer in the world." is that I have never heard of Alexander von Humboldt and had to check that this wasn't fiction.

Having verified he was real, I found myself at times getting drawn into this recounting of his five-year mission to explore a portion of the Spanish Empire in northern South America and Mexico from 1799-1804. He was quite the character with his obsessiveness, giant ego, and tendency to exaggerate.

Unfortunately, the writing and the art kept distracting and detracting. The dialogue was often inane. Giant blocks of text pop up constantly. Word balloons and text are at times poorly placed, stopping the flow of the tale as you decipher the proper reading order. The art is mostly collage with images of document pages in foreign languages scattered behind everything on many pages drawing more attention than they should as I wished I could be reading them instead. And the amateurish awkwardness of Melcher's art stands out in stark contrast to the oil paintings and sampled images used as backgrounds and accents.

It's a borderline 2-star book for me, but I'll go with 3 simply because I feel I learned so much. ( )
  villemezbrown | May 19, 2019 |
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Let me introduce myself. My name is Alexander von Humboldt, and I'm the most famous scientist and explorer in the world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, comes a breathtakingly illustrated and brilliantly evocative recounting of Alexander Von Humboldt's five year expedition in South America. Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, but his most revolutionary idea was a radical vision of nature as a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. His theories and ideas were profoundly influenced by a five-year exploration of South America. Now Andrea Wulf partners with artist Lillian Melcher to bring this daring expedition to life, complete with excerpts from Humboldt's own diaries, atlases, and publications. She gives us an intimate portrait of the man who predicted human-induced climate change, fashioned poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and influenced iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, and John Muir. This gorgeous account of the expedition not only shows how Humboldt honed his groundbreaking understanding of the natural world but also illuminates the man and his passions"--… (more)

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