The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

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Random House Publishing Group, Jun 12, 2001 - Nature - 304 pages
1607 Reviews
The book that helped make Michael Pollan, the New York Times bestselling author of Cooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the most trusted food experts in America

In 1637, one Dutchman paid as much for a single tulip bulb as the going price of a town house in Amsterdam. Three and a half centuries later, Amsterdam is once again the mecca for people who care passionately about one particular plant—though this time the obsessions revolves around the intoxicating effects of marijuana rather than the visual beauty of the tulip. How could flowers, of all things, become such objects of desire that they can drive men to financial ruin?

In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan argues that the answer lies at the heart of the intimately reciprocal relationship between people and plants. In telling the stories of four familiar plant species that are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, Pollan illustrates how they evolved to satisfy humankinds’s most basic yearnings—and by doing so made themselves indispensable. For, just as we’ve benefited from these plants, the plants, in the grand co-evolutionary scheme that Pollan evokes so brilliantly, have done well by us. The sweetness of apples, for example, induced the early Americans to spread the species, giving the tree a whole new continent in which to blossom. So who is really domesticating whom?

Weaving fascinating anecdotes and accessible science into gorgeous prose, Pollan takes us on an absorbing journey that will change the way we think about our place in nature.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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User Review  - Rosa.Mill - LibraryThing

The book gave an amazing overview into the cultural history and breeding history of apples, tulips, marijuana and potato plants. I felt like I learned a lot and was pretty entertained as well ... Read full review

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User Review  - sushicat - LibraryThing

Michael Pollan gives us a new view on domestication - a view in which man and plant are both object and subject of the domestication process. Both adapt to each other, both reap benefits from the ... Read full review

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Contents

Acknowledgments
Sweetness Plant The Apple
Beauty Plant The Tulip
Intoxication Plant Marijuana
Control Plant The Potato
Epilogue
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Michael Pollan is the author of seven books, including Cooked: The Natural History of Transformation, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.


From the Hardcover edition.

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