Stock Image

The Botany of Desire

Pollan, Michael

Published by Random House, 2001, 2001
ISBN 10: 0375501290 / ISBN 13: 9780375501296
Used / Hardcover / Quantity Available: 1
From Books (Nashville, TN, U.S.A.)
Available From More Booksellers
View all  copies of this book
Add to basket
Price: 122.08
Convert Currency
Shipping: 3.27
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

Save for Later

About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Botany of Desire

Publisher: Random House, 2001

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition


1st ed., near fine in near fine dj (slight lean to spine), in mylar, nature, case, blm50. Bookseller Inventory # 14801

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
4.05 avg rating
(36,142 ratings)

Synopsis: 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 ? thought 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.

Review: Working in his garden one day, Michael Pollan hit pay dirt in the form of an idea: do plants, he wondered, use humans as much as we use them? While the question is not entirely original, the way Pollan examines this complex coevolution by looking at the natural world from the perspective of plants is unique. The result is a fascinating and engaging look at the true nature of domestication.

In making his point, Pollan focuses on the relationship between humans and four specific plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. He uses the history of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) to illustrate how both the apple's sweetness and its role in the production of alcoholic cider made it appealing to settlers moving west, thus greatly expanding the plant's range. He also explains how human manipulation of the plant has weakened it, so that "modern apples require more pesticide than any other food crop." The tulipomania of 17th-century Holland is a backdrop for his examination of the role the tulip's beauty played in wildly influencing human behavior to both the benefit and detriment of the plant (the markings that made the tulip so attractive to the Dutch were actually caused by a virus). His excellent discussion of the potato combines a history of the plant with a prime example of how biotechnology is changing our relationship to nature. As part of his research, Pollan visited the Monsanto company headquarters and planted some of their NewLeaf brand potatoes in his garden--seeds that had been genetically engineered to produce their own insecticide. Though they worked as advertised, he made some startling discoveries, primarily that the NewLeaf plants themselves are registered as a pesticide by the EPA and that federal law prohibits anyone from reaping more than one crop per seed packet. And in a interesting aside, he explains how a global desire for consistently perfect French fries contributes to both damaging monoculture and the genetic engineering necessary to support it.

Pollan has read widely on the subject and elegantly combines literary, historical, philosophical, and scientific references with engaging anecdotes, giving readers much to ponder while weeding their gardens. --Shawn Carkonen

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Bookseller & Payment Information

Payment Methods

This bookseller accepts the following methods of payment:

  • American Express
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

[Search this Seller's Books]

[List this Seller's Books]

[Ask Bookseller a Question]

Bookseller: Books
Address: Nashville, TN, U.S.A.

AbeBooks Bookseller Since: 26 February 2001
Bookseller Rating: 3-star rating

Terms of Sale:

All major credit cards (Visa, MC, Discover, American Express), money orders (no personal checks).
Shipping: Domestic-4.00 (USPS, media mail); International-at cost.

Shipping Terms:

Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

Store Description: Hours: Mon-Fri, 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. General used bookstore; high-quality, reasonably-priced.