A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud

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Da Capo Press, Jul 18, 2001 - Science - 276 pages
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A Rum Affair is an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intrigue--critically acclaimed and a finalist for theLos Angeles TimesBook Prize. In the 1940s, the eminent British botanist John Heslop Harrison proposed a controversial theory: Species of plants on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, he said, had survived the last Ice Age. His premise flew in the face of evidence that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland, but he said he had proof--the plants and grasses found on the Isle of Rum--that would make his name in the scientific world. Harrison didn't anticipate, however, the tenacious John Raven, an amateur botanist who boldly questioned whether these grasses were truly indigenous to the area, or whether they had been transported there and planted. What seems at first a minor infringement of academic honesty soon becomes an enthralling tale of rival scientists and fraudulent science, a skillful whodunit that, in the hands of the talented Sabbagh, joins the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - NielsenGW - LibraryThing

Sabbagh tries as hard as he can to make 1940’s British botany lurid and exciting. While those looking for more intrigue in their plant plagiarism may go elsewhere, Sabbagh very competently lays out ... Read full review

A Rum affair: a true story of botanical fraud

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Sabbagh, a television producer and author (Skyscraper), here explores a very curious chapter of botanical history. He chases down a 50-year-old open secret of suspected fraud committed by respected ... Read full review

Contents

Fields of Inquiry
12
The Professor and the Don
28
Rumors
52
The Plan
73
The Forbidden Island
88
Quoth the Raven
107
Is Such a Thing Done?
127
The Aftermath
150
Seeds of Doubt
162
A Total Muddlehead
190
The Matter Subsides
220
Broken Lost or Never Collected
233
Appendix
259
Notes
265
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Karl Sabbagh earned his degree at King's College, Cambridge, before joining BBC Television. He is the author of five books, among them The Living Body and Power into Art. He lives near Stratford-Upon-Avon.

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