what linnaeus saw

A Scientist’s Quest to Name Every Living Thing

Karen Beil returns with the story of a trailblazing scientist and intellectual rule breaker, Carl Linnaeus, who forever changed the way we think about the natural world.

Charles Darwin considered him one of his “two gods.” Benjamin Franklin labeled him “the great Naturalist.” The Queen of Sweden gossiped that he was “a very witty man, even if he doesn’t look it.” The Pope banned his books. Thomas Jefferson not only read them but bought copies for friends.

Rich biographical anecdotes, mystery animals, and problematic plants build suspense as Beil follows Linnaeus’s journey to understanding and organizing the natural world. She helps today’s readers to see WHAT LINNAEUS SAW.

Beil’s enthusiastic exploration . . . a highly engaging and entertaining page-turning presentation . . . . An outstanding biography of a brilliant and fascinating man who is well worth the attention.
— Kirkus Reviews, a STARRED review!
If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost too.
— Carl Linnaeus, 1751


ABOUT karen beil


Early training as a news reporter taught Karen Beil to be persistent in asking tough questions. This skill came in handy while researching her newest book, a narrative nonfiction, WHAT LINNAEUS SAW: A Scientist’s Quest to Name Every Living Thing. One skill she didn’t learn as a journalist, though, was how to read 18th century Latin. (It would have been helpful.)

The author of What Linnaeus Saw: A Scientist’s Quest to Name Every Living Thing, Fire In Their Eyes: Wildfires and the People Who Fight Them, Jack’s House, and other books for children and young adults, she lives in upstate New York and Cape Cod.