The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth

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W. W. Norton & Company, Nov 1, 2010 - Science - 480 pages
36 Reviews

The story of bold adventurers who risked death to discover strange life forms in the farthest corners of planet Earth.

Beginning with Linnaeus, a colorful band of explorers made it their mission to travel to the most perilous corners of the planet and bring back astonishing new life forms. They attracted followers ranging from Thomas Jefferson, who laid out mastodon bones on the White House floor, to twentieth-century doctors who used their knowledge of new species to conquer epidemic diseases. Acclaimed science writer Richard Conniff brings these daredevil "species seekers" to vivid life. Alongside their globe-spanning tales of adventure, he recounts some of the most dramatic shifts in the history of human thought. At the start, everyone accepted that the Earth had been created for our benefit. We weren't sure where vegetable ended and animal began, we couldn't classify species, and we didn't understand the causes of disease. But all that changed as the species seekers introduced us to the pantheon of life on Earth—and our place within it.
 

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Review: The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth

User Review  - Christopher - Goodreads

Very enjoyable and easy to read, despite the scope of the book in describing those seeking new animal species. This work is similar to Darwin's Ghosts by Rebecca Stott, in that Richard Coniff ... Read full review

Review: The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth

User Review  - Goodreads

I bought this book on a whim, the title intrigued me and I've enjoyed classifying the species that live around my neighborhood. Luckily, my gamble paid off and I finished The Species Seekers in very ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction Strange Things Strange Lands
1
Chapter One That Great Beast of a Town
15
Chapter Two Finding the Thread
33
Chapter Three Collecting and Conquest
53
Chapter Seven The River Rolling Westward
111
Chapter Eight If They Lost Their Skalps
129
Chapter Nine The Burden of Specimens
143
Chapter Ten Arsenic and Immortality
153
Chapter Twelve Craniological Longings
179
Chapter Thirteen A Fool to Nature
193
Chapter Fourteen The World Turned Upside Down
209
Chapter Seventeen Labourer in the Field
253
Necrology
379
Acknowledgments
385
Bibliography
419
Illustration Credits
435

Chapter Eleven Am I Not a Man and a Brother?
167

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About the author (2010)

Richard Coniff, a Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the National Magazine Award, writes for Smithsonian and National Geographic and is a frequent commentator on NPR's All Things Considered and a guest columnist for the New York Times. His books include The Natural History of the Rich, Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time, and The Species Seekers. He lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

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