The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley (Hardcover)
January 2016 Indie Next List
“In his latest quest, acclaimed travel writer Weiner takes readers on a journey to discover creative places that inspire and cultivate geniuses. Time-traveling from ancient Athens to modern Silicon Valley with Hangzhou, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta, and Vienna as stops along the way, Weiner conducts a grand tour of those places thought to be conducive to ingenuity. He asks, What was in the air, and can we bottle it? A fascinating and entertaining literary treat connecting culture and creativity.”
— Kathleen Dixon (M), Fair Isle Books, Washington Island, WI
“An intellectual odyssey, a traveler’s diary, and a comic novel all rolled into one. Smart, original, and utterly delightful.” —Daniel Gilbert, Harvard professor and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“A charming mix of history and wisdom cloaked as a rollicking travelogue.” —Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs
Travel the world with Eric Weiner, the New York Times bestselling 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 this favorite coffee house. 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 jumpstart a national conversation.
About the Author
Eric Weiner is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. His books include The Geography of Bliss and The Geography of Genius, as well as Man Seeks God and The Socrates Express. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Eric is a former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, and reporter for The New York Times. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, BBC Travel, and AFAR, among other publications.
"A witty, entertaining romp. Weiner’s vivid descriptions of modern-day life in each locale make the spots feel like must-visit destinations.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“There are some writers whose company is worth keeping, whatever the subject… And Mr. Weiner is blessed with this gift. He is a prober and questioner, a big-hearted humanist who will always take a colorful, contradictory reality over some unfounded certainty.”
— Wall Street Journal
"A global odyssey that seeks to discover why geniuses gather in certain places during certain eras and why these hot spots burn out, often after a half-century of grand achievements. Weiner is a superb travel guide: funny, knowledgeable, self-deprecating and always up for sharing a bottle of wine."
— Washington Post
"The Geography of Genius is witty, informative, and compulsively readable. Whether you’re getting genius tips from Freud in Vienna or hearing the secrets of high-tech powerhouses in Silicon Valley, you’ll emerge smarter after reading this delightful travelogue of ingenuity."
— Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
"It’s rare to read a book that makes you laugh and learn, but Eric Weiner has done it again. This witty, wise explorer offers fascinating insights on how culture has inspired creativity across the ages—ripe for chats at water coolers and cocktail parties—and offers a practical map for how we can all become a bit more inventive."
— Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
"Eric Weiner has single-handedly invented a new nonfiction genre in which a brilliant and hilarious writer leaves his home and family to circle the globe in search of the answer to a timeless question. The Geography of Genius is an intellectual odyssey, a traveler’s diary, and a comic novel all rolled into one. Smart, original, and utterly delightful, this is Weiner’s best book yet."
— Daniel Gilbert, Harvard professor and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“An entertaining and thought-provoking book, a combination of history and travelogue… Part of the book's charm stems from the pure joy of experiencing these places alongside a narrator like Weiner… His wry wit shines through as he drinks sublime tea in China and contemplates a coffin collar in an Edinburgh museum; as he interviews figures such as Jack Ma, a Hangzhou native who founded multibillion dollar company Alibaba; and as he wanders the Ringstrasse of Vienna and the strip malls of Silicon Valley, pondering the conditions that lead to genius.”
— Christian Science Monitor
"Why do certain places produce a spontaneous eruption of creativity? What made Athens and Florence and Silicon Valley? This witty and fun book has an insight in every paragraph. It’s a charming mix of history and wisdom cloaked as a rollicking travelogue filled with colorful characters."
— Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs
"Weiner is an affable tour guide and a lively, witty writer in the style of Bill Bryson; the connections he makes between places of genius are sharp and sometime unexpected."
“Informative and dryly witty, Weiner's odyssey is both an insightful examination of genius and a call to readers to explore their own untapped creative resources.”
— Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Fun and thought provoking.”
— Miami Herald
"Weiner illustrates the power that culture and location can lend to creative efforts. Using a series of well-crafted travel essays the author propels readers across the globe… A welcome read for lovers of geography, history of geography, historical travel, travelogues, and the history of science."
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Well read, thoughtful and above all curious, Weiner invites the reader to explore a satisfying take on a meaningful topic while also enjoying daily pleasures in cities around the world.”
"In the genial style of Bill Bryson, Weiner scouts the world looking for places that have spawned geniuses."
— Kirkus Reviews