This is the story of the charismatic explorer who Simon Bolivar called "the true discoverer of South America," and of the daring expedition that altered the course of science. Humboldt was the reigning scientific mind of the early 19th century, a unique combination of naturalist and adventurer. On a 6,000-mile journey through what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Cuba, risking his life in treacherous terrain, he conducted the first extensive scientific explorations of the Andes and the Amazon, literally redrawing the map and dramatically expanding our knowledge of the natural world. He set an altitude record while climbing Chimborazo, made revolutionary discoveries about volcanoes and the earth's magnetic field, and introduced Americans and Europeans to the cultures of the Aztecs and the Incas. He laid the groundwork for the fields of climatology and oceanography, and profoundly influenced followers such as Darwin and Agassiz.--From publisher description.