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

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9780140080544: The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself

An original history of man's greatest adventure: his search to discover the world around him.  In the compendious history, Boorstin not only traces man's insatiable need to know, but also the obstacles to discovery and the illusion that knowledge can also put in our way. Covering time, the earth and the seas, nature and society, he gathers and analyzes stories of the man's profound quest to understand his world and the cosmos.

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Review:

Perhaps the greatest book by one of our greatest historians, The Discoverers is a volume of sweeping range and majestic interpretation. To call it a history of science is an understatement; this is the story of how humankind has come to know the world, however incompletely ("the eternal mystery of the world," Einstein once said, "is its comprehensibility"). Daniel J. Boorstin first describes the liberating concept of time--"the first grand discovery"--and continues through the age of exploration and the advent of the natural and social sciences. The approach is idiosyncratic, with Boorstin lingering over particular figures and accomplishments rather than rushing on to the next set of names and dates. It's also primarily Western, although Boorstin does ask (and answer) several interesting questions: Why didn't the Chinese "discover" Europe and America? Why didn't the Arabs circumnavigate the planet? His thesis about discovery ultimately turns on what he calls "illusions of knowledge." If we think we know something, then we face an obstacle to innovation. The great discoverers, Boorstin shows, dispel the illusions and reveal something new about the world.

Although The Discoverers easily stands on its own, it is technically the first entry in a trilogy that also includes The Creators and The Seekers. An outstanding book--one of the best works of history to be found anywhere. --John J. Miller

From the Publisher:

" A remarkable narrative of the grand intellectual venture of humankind, rich in fascinating, often dramatic details"-- (The Wall Street Journal)
" A sumptuous, totally engaging panorama. No one who reads it will look at the chronicle of human ingenuity in the same way again." --David McCullough

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Daniel J. Boorstin
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (1986)
ISBN 10: 0140080546 ISBN 13: 9780140080544
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Daniel J. Boorstin
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (1986)
ISBN 10: 0140080546 ISBN 13: 9780140080544
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