Author: Eric Weiner
Genre: Travel, Historical and Psychology.
*Before we begin: I originally wrote a draft review but it accidentally got deleted when my browser crashed! Hence I had to write the review once again and there was a sharp fall in quality because I rushed through it- a major blunder if there ever was one. My mate Andi Rain from Ukraine pointed out how I could better this review and so here is the edited version. Have a good day!
Eric Weiner doesn’t so much as quote the geniuses as he explores how their geographical location as well as the culture they were exposed to lead them on their path to greatness.
So which historical heavy weights can you expect?
If there is ever a time for name dropping that time is now:
Francis Galton (Statistician), Adam Smith (Wealth of the nations & Theory of moral sentiments), James Young Simpson (Anesthesia) , Shen Kuo (Magnetic Declination), Su Dongpo (Poet Emperor), David Humes (Philosopher), Albert Einstein (Theory of general relativity), Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali), Jagidish Chandra Bose (Plants can feel), Sigmund Freud (Freudian Psychoanalysis), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Composer), Hadyn (Mozart’s mentor & famous for his ‘the creation’), Schulbert (Composer), Beethoven (Composer & also mentored by Hadyn), Ovid (Roman Poet), Darwin (Theory of evolution), Diogenes Laertus (Historian), Leonardo Da Vinci (Artist), Michelangelo (Sculptor & Artist), Ghiberti (Paradise’s doors), Brunelleschi (duomo’s roof), Veracchio (Da vinci’s mentor), Pericles (Governor of Athens), Apostasia (Public Speaker), Plato (Philosopher), Pletho (Neoplatonian), Socrates (Philosopher and Plato’s mentor), Van Gogh (Tormented Artist), Picasso (Artist), Protagoras (Sophist), Thucydides (General turned historian), Nannerl (Mozart’s sister), Dante Alighieri (Legendary Poet), to name but a few are discussed in the book along with how they became as universally acclaimed as they are now, quirks and all.
It doesn’t end there though, various theories such as Danilevsky’s law which states that a state must be independent and autonomous to give birth to a wave of intellectuals as well as other ideas such as Janusian thinking -which explores holding two opposite thoughts together and coming up with a third perspective.
In the same vein, groupthink which deals with having the viewpoint of an individual changed to fit in with his or her peers, Dunning-Kruger effect where a person is incapable of understanding that they have not fully grasped a subject matter, theory of unintended consequences where one action leads to favorable accidents and by products- serendipity, bifurcation point of chaos theory where a person is made to choose between two things and can never turn back, the ability to make familiar concepts strange again so as to perceive something in greater depth and not be limited by parochialism which is to say a narrow outlook, among others concepts are brought to light.
By the same token, Jack Ma founder of Ali Baba makes a surprise appearance and discusses how exams went from being a tool for establishing meritocracy to a creativity snuffing system which leads to deadening effect and innovation gaps.
On the flip side, while these cities have rich cultural heritages, the artists and philosopher of today’s time have a lot to live up to and often find themselves shadow boxing with their predecessor’s ever looming legacy.
The book is replete with engaging content and invaluable information. Not only does it have all the makings of a splendid read but it also possesses the ingredients for a spicy and diverse experience which leaves the reader much more aware of other cultures than when he or she began reading the first page.
For Savant and the closet bibliophile alike, this book is worth the time, attention and discussion that will follow. Although it is not recommended that the reader chain this book to the reading desk like in the Medici era when the relative value of books could be equated to that of a modern car, it should be noted that The Geography Of Genius is worth treasuring.