The Humboldt current: nineteenth-century exploration and the roots of American environmentalism

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A masterly intellectual history of the impact of 19th-century explorer Alexander von Humboldt on American culture and science The naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) achieved unparalleled fame in his own time. Today, his enormous legacy to American thought is virtually unknown. In The Humboldt Current, Aaron Sachs seeks to reverse this obscurity by tracing Humboldt’s pervasive influence on American history, specifically looking at the lives and careers of four explorers: J. N. Reynolds, the founder of the 1838–1842 U.S. Exploring Expedition; Clarence King, the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey; George Wallace Melville, chief engineer on the disastrous 1879 Jeannetteexpedition to the North Pole; and John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. In Sachs’s view, all four of these men were alienated Romantics who used Humboldt’s notion of “unity in diversity” as a way of critiquing their increasingly industrialized society. Moreover, as Sachs argues, their examples laid the groundwork for an ecological tradition even more radical than the one that has come down to us today. Sachs’s treatment of Humboldt’s legacy also includes discussions of the writers and artists most in his debt: Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Melville, Poe, and Frederic Church. Reminiscent of Louis Menand’s bestselling The Metaphysical Club, The Humboldt Currentis a colorful, superbly written and carefully researched work that offers a fundamental reinterpretation of nineteenth century American history.
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Grouped Work ID 167a93e0-b0db-e2a9-53e7-9d995a2107fc
Grouping Title humboldt current nineteenth century exploration and the roots of american environmentalism
Grouping Author sachs aaron
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2017-12-18 23:55:38PM
Last Indexed 2019-07-15 23:54:14PM

Solr Details

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author Sachs, Aaron (Aaron Jacob).
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literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog 508.092 S1212h
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Main Kids, Main Library
primary_isbn 9780670037759
publishDate 2006
record_details ils:CARL0000271773|Book|Books||English|Viking,|2006.|xii, 496 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
recordtype grouped_work
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
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subject_facet Environmentalism -- History, Humboldt, Alexander von, -- 1769-1859, Scientific expeditions -- History -- 19th century, Scientists -- Germany -- Biography
title_display The Humboldt current : nineteenth-century exploration and the roots of American environmentalism
title_full The Humboldt current : nineteenth-century exploration and the roots of American environmentalism / Aaron Sachs
title_short The Humboldt current :
title_sub nineteenth-century exploration and the roots of American environmentalism
topic_facet Environmentalism, History, Humboldt, Alexander von, Scientific expeditions, Scientists