Seeds of Wealth: Four Plants that Made Men Rich

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Pan Macmillan UK, May 1, 2004 - History - 272 pages
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A highly original interpretation of a wide span of global history through vitally important plants. Henry Hobhouse was the first to recognise plants as a causal factor in history in his Seeds of Change. In this new book, he examines four plants: rubber, timber, tobacco and the wine grape, each of which enormously increased the wealth of those who dealt in them, created great new industries and changed the course of history.

Ancient Rome's monopoly on wine production had huge economic and hygienic importance. Without rubber, there would have been no development of cars, buses and trucks, bicycles, waterproof clothing or even tennis balls and condoms.

Tobacco has largely been condemned for its effects on health and its true role in history ignored. Tobacco has often been used in place of currency and its growth in Virginia supported a colony that produced much of the talent that made Independence possible.

Timber shortages led the British Royal Navy to become dependent on American timber. The dearth of timber drove English coal mines deep, which led to the steam pumps, steam engines, and ultimately the Industrial Revolution.

These are fascinating stories showing the effect of minutiae on the great waves of history.

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About the author (2004)

Henry Hobhouse was born in Somerset in 1924 and educated at Eton. From 1946 to 1954 he worked as a journalist for The Economist, News Chronicle, Daily Express, and Wall Street Journal, becoming, in 1948, one of the first Directors of CBS-TV News. His other books are Forces of Change and Seeds of Change.

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