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An original history of man’s greatest adventure: his search to discover the world around him. In the compendious history, Boorstin not only traces. In Boorstin’s bestseller The Discoverers, the achievements of Galileo, Daniel J. Boorstin, Author ABRAMS $75 (p) ISBN An original history of man’s greatest adventure: his search to discover the world around him. In the compendious history, Boorstin not only.

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Return to Book Page. Preview — The Discoverers by Daniel J. An original history of man’s greatest adventure: Paperbackpages.

The Discoverers By: Daniel J. Boorstin

Published February 12th by Vintage first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Discoverers discoveeers, please sign up.

Lists with This Book. Oct 26, Charles Moody rated it it was amazing. If you were going on a yearlong cruise and could take only one book, this might be my recommendation. I cannot imagine where else you could find, in a single volume, such a wealth of history organized so lucidly and written so engagingly. The title might suggest that it is the story of Columbus, Magellan, etc.

It describes the step-by-step advances in human knowledge in many areas, as societies began to measure time, became determined to explore and map th If you were going on a yearlong cruise and could take only one book, this might be my recommendation.

It describes the step-by-step advances in human knowledge in many areas, as societies began to measure time, became determined to explore and map the earth and seas, sought to catalog nature, encountered the need to record and transmit knowledge, and eventually recognized the importance of excavating and studying their own past.

The book is divided into wonderfully concise chapters of about pages, and in almost every one of them I became instantly interested in the protagonist, and awed by the courage or brilliance of his discovery.

In a good number of them I either found the answer to some question I had always wondered about, or found intriguing discussion of something it had never really occurred to me to wonder about — such as why there are seven days in a week, when nothing in nature dictates it. In whole or in parts, this book can be read and reread almost endlessly.

Jun 10, Todd N rated it it was amazing. It took me about six weeks to read this book because I wanted to take my time with it. The Discoverers is a history of our attempt to understand the world and our place in it.

This story of science and exploration is divided into these four books: Time – how attempts to measure hours and years led to examination of the sky and development of increasingly complex machines 2. Nature – Copernican sy It took me about six weeks to read this book because I wanted to take my time with it. Nature – Copernican system; telescope and microscope; medicine; The Royal Society; Newtonian physics 4.

Society – Books, manuscript and printed; History, prehistory, and archeology; Economics and sociology; Post-Newtonian physics from atoms to electromagnetism The Discoverers covers a lot of different topics, but they are arranged in a way that the concepts and events build throughout the book. For example, long ocean voyages aren’t practical until the clock is perfected.

Also, a theory of evolution isn’t possible until geology extends the age of the Earth far beyond the traditional age of a few thousand years. The focus is mainly on The West, meaning Europe and America, but there are also sections explaining how other cultures mainly China and Islam were an influence on events or why what was happening in the West wasn’t happening there. I just noticed that this book was published inwhich I think is before the emphasis on multiculturalism was mainstream, so it might disappoint or even offend the more delicate people who expect a more multicultural and global didcoverers from a historical overview.

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Daniep much is covered in this book that it would be impossible to summarize.

The Discoverers – Wikipedia

The stories that I was already familiar with — Newton, Galileo, Darwin — are already covered here. More interesting are the lesser known or even anonymous people who worked to illuminate our world.

Looking back on this book, I noticed three interesting themes. Being right isn’t really necessary to push back the frontiers of knowledge. Columbus didn’t understand danifl he discovered.

Newton spent the last years of his life trying to create a chronology for the events in antiquity, including Greek legends. He wasn’t successful, but his idea of using astronomy to date events eventually led to a chronology being created.

Schliemann didn’t find the city of Troy or Agamemnon’s grave, but dramatic reports of his attempts almost singlehandedly popularized the new field of archeology.

The biggest obstacle to knowledge in a field is not ignorance but the existence of an already widely held understanding in that field. The influence of the ancient Greek physician Galen on anatomy is the most striking example.

It turns out oborstin Galen based his anatomy on inferences drawn from dissection of monkeys because dissection of human cadavers was forbidden. But his texts were boorsitn for over fourteen centuries.

The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself

Ptolemy has a similar influence on cartography and astronomy. Aristotle, of course, influences just about everything else.

And then of course there is The Church. Even when not actively blocking progress, it still provides such a complete structure for the mind that it is almost like a mental prison that very few are able to escape from. Lack of formal education doesn’t preclude one from making significant contributions. It may even be advantageous to be an outsider. Paraclesus, who laid the foundation for disease theory, didn’t have a medical degree. Faraday’s insights into electromagnetism were probably possible because he wasn’t formally trained in the math of Newtonian physics.

Thomsen’s was able to discern separate Stone, Iron, and Bronze ages because his mind wasn’t influenced by the inaccurate academic theories of the day. However, everyone mentioned in the book — credentialed or not — read and worked constantly.

I was also happy to finally learn the name for the mythical creatures who had faces in their abdomens: I saw an illustration of one of these a long time ago in a history book but was unable to find a picture again. But now I have twenty or so drawings to use as an avatar. If you are curious about how we know what we know I would recommend reading this book. Potrajalo je, ali je bilo vredno truda.

Od kalendara i sata do jezgra atoma. Feb 18, Jlawrence rated it really liked it. Good LORD it took me a long time to finish this book. Not because of the writing – Boorstin’s good at relating history though clear, lively anecdotes. I recommend this edition for the fantastic visual context it gives for the huge sweeps of history Boorstin surveys. I finally finished because I broke down and lugged it on my commute my main reading time. The book itself is an ambitious survey of advances that lead to greater and greater precision of describing the world in scientific terms, divided somewhat arbitrarily into four sections – “Time”, “The Earth and Seas”, “Nature” and “Society.


There’s much to criticize. It’s certainly Eurocentric but not absolutely – for instance, there’s some very interesting stuff about the religious and cultural tolerance of Genghis Khan’s Mongol empire, despite its ‘barbarian’ reputation.

Boorstin’s reliance on biographic sketches of ‘men of genius’ sometimes neglects the broader social context that lead to the discoveries, and sometimes neglects detailing previous advances a particular discoverer was drawing upon.

So as an overall history of ‘discovery’, it probably ranks as three stars. Jul 11, Max rated it it was amazing Shelves: This theme based history of how the modern world came to be is so much more engaging than the typical geopolitical event based history. Rather than learning about battles, kings and politicians we learn how ideas pursued by innovators shaped our culture.

Boorstin shows us how these creative thinkers were helped or more often held back by political, religious and cultural forces and in turn how their ideas changed these forces.

Boorstin takes us right up to the start of the twentieth century and along the way treats us to captivating vignettes of visionaries who radically altered our perceptions, many of whom I learned about for the first time or in a new way. The notes below touch on some of the topics I found most interesting. Since the dawn of civilization, man has depended on his understanding of the seasons.

Boorstin takes us from the first primitive calendars to the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century. Now people could live from hour to hour. This also led to the idea of a clockwork universe. With the 17th century invention of the pendulum clock we could live from minute to minute. The 18th century invention of the chronometer which kept accurate time on pitching and rolling ships meant longitude could be accurately calculated. Now we knew where we were even in the middle of the ocean.

The first steps on the path to our current hectic lives had been taken. With the Middle Ages came maps that relied on myths and bible references rather than ancient knowledge or actual experience. Thus in Christian Europe exploration beyond known bounds was considered dangerous as some evil would be lurking.

The Discoverers – Daniel J. Boorstin – Google Books

When their empire faded, the Turks and Arabs blocked the way. Thus Europe was shut out of Asian trade until the Portuguese in the fifteenth century found their way around Africa launching the age of discovery.

Grossly underestimating the distance to Asia, he was lucky America was there. After many voyages to the New World he never recognized it as such, still thinking he had found islands off the Asian coast. Amerigo Vespucci who explored most of the east coast of South America, did realize he had found a fourth continent and documented it. He not only saw through the errors of current maps but noted the vast numbers of new species.

He reasoned that Noah could not have gotten them all on the ark becoming a heretic. Just as with the discovery of new lands, the discovery of the macro and microscopic realms were inhibited by the doctrinaire Church, the widespread presumption of already knowing, and reliance on intuition.

Thus when the telescope and the microscope came along to expose new dimensions their revelations were challenged.