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Jaguars and Electric Eels (Penguin Great Journeys)
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Jaguars and Electric Eels (Penguin Great Journeys)

3.3  ·  Rating details ·  79 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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 th ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 1853)
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Janez Hočevar
An excellent travelogue, with lots of details about the flora and fauna and indigenous Indians of the South America. The author combines successfully the erudite languange (and thus admits himself as the child of the Age of Reason) and the style of writing that will later be popularised by the Romanticism.
Daren
Another of the Penguin Great Journey books, this one excerpts from von Humbolt's Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, which itself appears to be a very shortened version of his writings about the top of South America.

It was one of the books in the series that I was looking forward to the most, and for that reason perhaps, I was a little underwhelmed. It was interesting - particularly the jaguars and the electric eels, but it was not really a narrative
...more
Ape
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
My 2010 bookcrossing review:

This one was one of the really good ones so far! This was written in the early 1800s and is about this guy travelling through Venezuela, starting at the coast and going in land, through the jungles and over plains, to the Orinoco river and then travelling by canoe along there. He seems to be there to take different geological readings; another guy is there collating masses of information on the plants of the country. What makes this a great piece of travel writing is
...more
Alex
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Short and mostly painless, but this is more of a verbal portrait than a travelogue or an adventure. Von Humboldt tends toward painting his landscapes, tossing out statistics and measurements, and occasionally interjecting a story or encounter. The end result feels unresolved and difficult to interpret as a journey with a start and end... it reads more like aimless wandering, stopping here and there but with no real purpose.

I will say, though, that I did find the bit about the electric eel fishin
...more
Piper
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Alexander von Humboldts excerpts from "Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent".
It is an enjoyable read about the flora and fauna of Venezuela.
The first 40 pages are quite descriptive of the flora which was a little boring
but I very much enjoyed the rest of his travels.
Altogether 3,5 Stars
...more
Don
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
The briefest sampling of his 21-volume long account of his five years in South America, these few pages give a good insight into a mind which ushered in the scientific age. Humboldt travelled extensively, commenting on geography and geology as well his main areas of expertise, which was botany. He also had insightful things to say about the societies that were emerging in the region, as the European settlers built their cities and extended their commercial activities more deeply into the hinterl ...more
Owain
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here, in a fertile land, in an eternal greenness, you search in vain for traces of man; you feel you are carried into a different world from the one you were born into.


An interesting little read, although I felt it was lacking in narrative. There's little structure to the book which is pretty much just excerpts from Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent. Each small chapter is basically a stand-alone section of some scene of journey Humboldt describes t
...more
Nat
Jan 10, 2011 added it
Humboldt is constantly taking measurements: how high the local mountains are (figuring that out requires a day-long expedition), the temperature of various hot springs, how fast the water in the Orinico river flows, the length of gigantic snakes and electric eels they catch, and so on. He is also constantly annoying the locals by expressing skepticism about the legends they tell about hairy man apes and people with no heads and mouths in their bellies.
Daniel Simmons
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
"[The people here] are used to a dull domestic life," writes Humboldt with dismay about the citizens of Caracas, "and avoid fatigue and sudden changes in climate as if they live not to enjoy life but to prolong it" (p. 12). Screw that, thinks the German explorer as he plunges off into the Venezuelan rainforest for hands-on encounters with electric eels and crocodiles. What a complete madman. I am in awe.
Andrew
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Electrifying as the eels, particularly the account of their capture.
And poignant:
"....only the United States of America offers asylum to those in need. A government that is strong because it is free, and confident because it is just...."
Well, a couple of centuries surely is a long time in politics.
Claire
Dec 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Meso
I love the great journeys series - found them in an airport bookstore - perfect size for travel and a nice way to inspire adventure. I would recommend to anyone interested in exploration and discovery.
Scott
Aug 27, 2009 rated it liked it
I really enjoy stories of adventurers. People have done some amazing things.
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Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and linguist, Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical geography was foundational to the field of biogeography.

Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt traveled extensively in Latin America, exploring and describin
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More about Alexander von Humboldt...
“With most animals, as with man, the alertness of the senses diminishes after years of work, after domestic habits and progress of culture.” 10 likes
“This view of a living nature where man is nothing is both odd and sad. Here, in a fertile land, in an eternal greenness, you search in vain for traces of man; you feel you are carried into a different world from the one you were born into.” 9 likes
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