Shores of Knowledge

Shores of Knowledge

New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination

Book - 2013
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Recounts the triumphs and mishaps of Columbus and other explorers, following the naturalists--both famous and obscure--whose investigations of the world's fauna and flora fueled the rise of science and technology that propelled Western Europe towards modernity.
Publisher: New York :, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.,, [2013]
ISBN: 9780393239515
Characteristics: 308 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Oct 12, 2016

Having just started a book about circumnavigating the planet, it comes off a little flat and two-dimensional. Applebly treats Western Europe in the Middle Ages (over a thousand years) as very homogenized and completely controlled by the Catholic Church. Stagnation has occurred with science and discovery have been sent to back alleys. She has even dismissed monks who copied and protected literature as doing so out of idle curiosity.

The reality is that knowledge, exploration, science, and academia were already being formalized in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Universities being founded and built in several countries, Roger Bacon developing the modern scientific method in the 1200s (a monk at Oxford no less!), Copernicus being Columbus's contemporary, the Renaissance itself, or that the only reason Columbus went west was because the Portuguese had already linked Europe and the Pacific by traveling around Africa decades prior.

This is a solid concept- the Age of Discovery kicking off a blossoming science and discovery around the word- a Columbian exchange of information and research, but her viewpoints lack context and ignores anything that undermines this concept.

Feb 01, 2016

Book is fairly easy, quick read of looking at the difference the explorations of the world between 1412 and 1865 meant.
It explains how the world changed by changing people's attitudes.
The problem with the book is that occasionally the author fudged facts to make them fit her story. By the time she wrote about Alexander Humboldt I was tired of it.
Still, she gave me some insight on a couple of things I had not considered. The problem with evolution is a problem of the Old Church World conflicting with New Information. She doesn't even talk about Evolution (I stopped before she got to Darwin, she was fudging too much)
The other interesting perspective she gave me was on George III, King of England.
I had known that the American Revolution was as much a revolt against the British and Dutch East India Companies as it was against the government of England. When she talks about Harrison and how because he was a commoner George III had to intervene to get him the prize for Longitude, it became clearer what had happened in America: we don't like to talk about it but as George III's porphyria increased the British East India Company installed ever greater corporate control of the English Government. That led to a revolution in America that if George III had remained healthy and sane he would have probably prevented.
It's a good read but be careful to check the facts because in this book they aren't all right.

Feb 24, 2014

Appleby (History, Emeritus/UCLA) states that "the most significant consequence of the age of discovery was the awakening of curiosity among Europeans about the world in which they lived". She relates a broad survey of various influences and happenings that took place over 4 centuries to propel us to where we are today. Although a few of the early chapters seemed a little dry, those about Darwin and Humboldt were very interesting, as well as the description of some colorful anecdotes (i.e. the experiment involving frogs). For those interested in reading other books of this genre, the bibliography is an excellent resource.


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