The Geography of Genius

  • by Eric Weiner
  • Narrated by Eric Weiner
  • 14 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Travel the world with Eric Weiner, the New York Times best-selling author of The Geography of Bliss, as he journeys from Athens to Silicon Valley - and throughout history, too - to show how creative genius flourishes in specific places at specific times.
In The Geography of Genius, acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places, like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And, with his trademark insightful humor, he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, "What was in the air, and can we bottle it?"
This link can be traced back through history: Darwin's theory of evolution gelled while he was riding in a carriage. Freud did his best thinking at his favorite coffeehouse. Beethoven, like many geniuses, preferred long walks in the woods.
Sharp and provocative, The Geography of Genius redefines the argument about how genius came to be. His reevaluation of the importance of culture in nurturing creativity is an informed romp through history that will surely jump-start a national conversation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very, very disappointing

I'm willing to admit that I really disliked this book because it wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was expecting non-fiction and let's get that right from the beginning, this was not at all a non-fiction book. This was much closer to a very long op-ed piece. There is very little science, history, or substance to this book and what little there is is mixed in with an interminable amount of pure opinion, fluff, and non-sense. I really don't wanna know what you named your fish in China, I don't wanna know what the restaurant you met someone looked like, and I don't wanna know that someone else paused before they said something. Mostly though this book is a failure to me for two reasons. The first being the condescension that is pepper through this whole book, but that really comes out when the author talks about other, non-Western, non-Modern cultures. There is no attempt to understand the culture for what it was and to value it for what makes it different from ours. The author looks down on the people and places that he is supposed to be interviewing. The other major problem is that most of the places the author talks about are in the past, these are the places where the genius was more prevalent. But the author talks more about the modern day people and culture than the past. If you want to talk about the genius in ancient Athens then talk about the culture and people of ancient Athens, not the people in the modern day city.
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- Tamara Greer

Strained conclusions

An interesting romp trough some of the global nexuses of brilliant work. Lots of historical perspective but also lots of hasty conclusions, perhaps driven by the author' s preconceptions. A case in point. Presumption: The church (or religion in general) squelched creativity. No genius could develop in its "shadow". The author coveniently disregards Copernicus, Mendel, Bacon, Ockham and many others. Might the church also be a super-geographic locatiom of genius? Another example is the concept of "phase transition" as a brilliancy driver. Increase the population density and a non linear dramatic change will happen. The analogy to states of matter is unfortunate. Yes, water will transition to ice under pressure but only under enormous pressure thousands of times atmospheric (or all the ocean bottoms would be solid ice). A lot easier to just slow a sparse population down a little (cool) to get the same effect...
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- Pam

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-05-2016
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio