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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for gardener and gourmet.
From the tomato, suspected of poisonous intentions to the tulip, creator of financial frenzy, on to marijuana and the political machinations that surround it, to the potato and the frightening effects of genetic manipulation, The Botany of Desire informs, illuminates, entertains and cautions us about plants and our relations with them. Only the section on marijuana...
Published on June 2 2012 by Virginia

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Ideas, Boring Read
The Botany of Desire presents an innovative way to think about how plants have propagated. The ideas are fresh, but, unfortunately, too few for an entire book. This subject matter would have been better served in essay format. The history presented about the tulip, rose and potato is fun and interesting--worth the read in these parts, even though one has to wade...
Published on Nov. 17 2003


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for gardener and gourmet., June 2 2012
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
From the tomato, suspected of poisonous intentions to the tulip, creator of financial frenzy, on to marijuana and the political machinations that surround it, to the potato and the frightening effects of genetic manipulation, The Botany of Desire informs, illuminates, entertains and cautions us about plants and our relations with them. Only the section on marijuana deviated from the title, giving us more of the author's point of view than the plant's. The final section on the potato, Monsanto and the practices of factory farming should be required reading for consumers, producers and those who are taxed with making decisions about pesticides, fertilizers and land use.

Virginia Winters, author of The Facepainter Murders, available on Amazon.com.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Ideas, Boring Read, Nov. 17 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
The Botany of Desire presents an innovative way to think about how plants have propagated. The ideas are fresh, but, unfortunately, too few for an entire book. This subject matter would have been better served in essay format. The history presented about the tulip, rose and potato is fun and interesting--worth the read in these parts, even though one has to wade through the interspersed philosophical musings of the author that are reiterated one too many times in (dare I say it?) overly-flowery language. The self-deprecating, blushing tales of pot smoking experimentation were silly and not worth the time to read. Honestly, I cannot recommend this book unless you want to be bored most of the time while reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature and Culture from a Gardener's Perspective, June 15 2004
By 
Anne Holcomb "biblio_tech" (Kalamazoo, MI, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
While you probably wouldn't want to use "The Botany of Desire" for scientific research purposes, this excellent nonfiction book effectively combines elements of science with those of history, cultural theory and mythology (from the early Greek to the Frontier American varieties). The tone is casual, not scholarly. Pollan is also a gardener, and his passion for growing things and his curiosity about life from the plant's-eye view shines through his text.
"The Botany of Desire" is a nonfiction book with an innovative structure: instead of telling a straight chronological story of the domestication of plants, Pollan instead selects four plants and tells each of their stories in turn, describing how their progress through the world has been shaped by human desires -- and the changes in those desires through history.
This book is also a travelogue of sorts: Pollan journeys through the Midwest in search of Johnny Appleseed's true life story, to Holland for the Cannabis Cup and the historical sites of "tulipomania," and to corporate factory forms to learn about genetic modification of the potato.
Most importantly, Pollan shows us around his own garden and introduces us to the plants that live there. Each of the four historical narratives begins and ends with the plant's history in his own backyard. As a host and a travel guide, Pollan takes on a fascinating journey through time, nature and culture.
I highly recommend this book to plant lovers and gardeners of all varieties, and to those who are interested in the shaping of nature by cultural forces (and vice versa). If this isn't you, it would still probably make a great gift for someone you know.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating page turner, May 12 2004
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
Wildly Enthusiastic Recommend: Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
This book is really different from your average reading fare. It's a delightful mix of facts both scientific and historical, fantastical meanderings, and just plain fun. The catching premise is that plants have co-opted man into promoting their prosperity. Pollan uses four plants to illustrate this premise: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. Each chapter is a wonderfully readable story about the plant and its history intertwined with its relationship to man. The apple chapter has amazing information about Johnny Appleseed, and because as a child I wanted to be Johnny Appleseed, I found this fascinating. It reinforced my belief that I had good instincts as a kid. Then the tulip chapter gives you the details of tulip-mania in the Netherlands in the 1600s (think Internet bubble), making it seem amazing that this sort of thing keeps happening. The marijuana chapter is the funniest and most sinister in that it makes you want to get some good stuff, now. The potato chapter is the scariest - genetically modified foods.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution and Biodiversity, Sept. 15 2007
By 
Thomas M. Quine "Information Designer" (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
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Listened to the audio version, I recommend this very highly if you are interested in issues such as evolutionary theory, genetic engineering and genetically modified food, biodiversity, and even the fascinating true story of Johnny Appleseed.

Pollan has some interesting insights about a popular concept in evolution, psychology, and even religious studies - the idea of intentionality. Yes, we have through artificial selection modified species such as the potato and the tulip, but has the apple, for instance, modified us to advance its own survival as a species? And if so, can we say it did so with intentionality? And if not, can we say that homo sapiens modified the apple with intentionality?

Well-written and easy to read and listen to, and I'm kinda fussy - I say buy it...
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5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking, Jan. 7 2010
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
As always Michael Pollan shows a point of view that isn't neccessarily obvious. He enlightens, entertains with his humour and offers a fresh, informative perspective. A pleasure to read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars How passionate are you about plants?, July 14 2004
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Glen Gillmore (Petaluma, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
Pollan's book was pleasurable and engaging to read. It is a book that got me to think and expanded my perspective. It places our relationship with plants in specific contexts, with a unique hybrid of sociological and genetic prose. Recommended highly for those passionate about gardening, nature, or food.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tripped out experience!!, Oct. 28 2003
By 
Ashwin (Bangalore, India) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
Reading this book is like taking a little journey, and credit for this goes to the wonderful writing style and brilliant sequencing of narratives by the writer. The book at a basic level aims to explore the close interplay of humanity and four different botanical elements, and attempts to show the influence that this interplay has had on the flow of history.
Starting with the tale of Johnny Appleseed set in a languorous backdrop, the book slowly edges forward to the tale of the Tulip ... set in the backdrop of a Europe that was beginning to emerge as a major sea-faring continent with amazing adventurers. The book then makes a silent detour into the taboo plant of Marijuana (for the serious/ex- users of weed, the descriptions of the experiences and the scientific analysis of the subject is ...simply Mind Blowing). Following this section and having set the reader on a contemplative path, the book now races to a climactic finish with a brilliant discussion on the issues regarding genetically modified crops and their socio-econo-political consequences.
MP is a writer par excellence, and this makes the book a wonderful read. The book is almost like a little rivulet, that goes on to become a roaring river, which calms down on its final leg to the sea... and then merges with the vast ocean that is limitless and boundless. And while doing so, MP touches subjects as diverse as history, geography, politics, economics and of course... botany!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Anti-botany, Aug. 1 2003
By 
P. van Rijckevorsel (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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In view of the many reviews already out there I need not add much. I read my way through the Apple chapter, which was readable, but quite light on facts (heavy on wordy prose).
I tried to read the Tulip chapter but soon felt quite uneasy. On page 69 I hit:
"To induce flies into its inner sanctum (there to be digested by waiting enzymes), the pitcher plant has developed a weirdly striated maroon-and-white flower ...". It is hard to imagine that this is the result of mere ignorance, surely such an artful compilation of so many untruths in a single sentence requires actual intent to misinform people on botany?
Maybe some time I will try to read the chapter on Marihuana, which should be mostly about the history of its use and thus safe in the hands of (even) Micheal Pollan?
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, and very informative, July 17 2003
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P. Lozar "plozar" (Santa Fe, NM USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Paperback)
I read this book after hearing a talk by Pollan on New Dimensions radio (in their "Bioneers" series), and I found it (like his talk) perfectly delightful. I don't agree that his use of science is misleading: he's done his homework and researched his subjects pretty thoroughly, and if he takes sides on an issue (e.g., anti-pesticide and anti-genetic-engineering), it's a reasoned conclusion rather than an unthinking bias. The book is anecdotal and impressionistic, not a closely-reasoned scientific argument, but I felt that its rather loose structure worked well: it's a fun read, he kept me interested all the way through, and I learned a surprising amount about history, botany, and horticulture. I've read several accounts of the Potato Famine, but Pollan's "take" on it was intriguing: he sees it as the world's most ghastly example of the dangers of monoculture, and I agree that it's a lesson we all need to take to heart. (But it's also a case of How A Fungus Changed The World: if the potato blight hadn't dispersed the Irish all over the world, many countries -- in Latin America, as well as the obvious contenders, Australia and the U.S. -- would be very different today.) The book is easy to read and amusing, but he also makes some important points, and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
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The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan (Paperback - May 28 2002)
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