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Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 26. November 2010

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

I've never been more pleasantly surprised with a "plant book" than this one.--Karen Gallagher"Dayton Beach News-Journal" (04/16/2011)

[For] the historically curious, foodies, reference libraries, schools of hospitality and cooking... Well-priced, and it comes with a ribbon bookmark.--Dean Tudor"gothicepicures.blogspot.com" (03/17/2011)

How wonderful are plants! Attractively illustrated ... This marvelous collection of tales deserves to be read and enjoyed.--Marilyn K. Alaimo"Chicago Botanic Garden" (06/30/2011)

Provides insight into the way plants used as fuel, food, weapons and medicines have had an impact on civilizations.--David Hobson"Kitchener Record" (04/01/2011)

This is a book for the curious sort.--Kylee Baumle"Horticulture" (04/20/2011)

Presents interesting information and impressions about plants.--Joel Lerner"Washington Post" (03/04/2011)

A delight to look at and a pleasure to hold. It is also a pleasure to read... a fine job.--Ann Skea"Midwest Book Review" (04/01/2011)

You might want to pick up two copies of this beautifully illustrated, fun read--one for the gardener...one for you.--Kathy Huber"Houston Chronicle" (12/16/2011)

A perfect book for residents as well as visitors... the short historical articles are beautifully illustrated with well-chosen color artwork.--Clear Englebert"West Hawaii Today" (12/20/2011)

Laws manages to throw in some interesting and little-known history.--George M. Eberhart"C and RL News (Association of College and Research" (10/01/2011)

This attractive and fun natural history of plants showcases fifty species that have influenced human history in significant ways. Each entry features color illustrations and photographs, interesting fact sidebars and information about distribution and growing conditions. Narratives detail the importance of each plant and range from ancient remedies and poisons to crop plants that formed trade and economic networks around the globe to bases for modern technological advances. The volume is designed for easy reference and includes information on further readings and Internet resources.

This book will mesmerize plant-lovers and non-gardeners alike.

This is a surprisingly easy, and good, read. The subject changes faster than a kaleidoscope image within each chapter, and there are insights into most of the large cultures of the globe.... It is a useful read for adults, and it practically begs to be given to one's acquaintances of the early or mid-teen years who could use a look at the wider world. They will like it. With any luck, they will go out looking for more information on the subject presented in the brief, glittering flashes here. And, if you play your cards right, they will let you read it, too, when they are done with it.

How wonderful are plants! That is the theme of this compilation of stories of the usefulness of 50 remarkable plants. Attractively illustrated, the text contains short essays on plants that provide sustenance, medicine, fragrance, spice, color, clothing, and much more. Lest we forget, the common sweet pea provided the means for establishing the scientific field of genetics. This marvelous collection of tales deserves to be read and enjoyed.--Marilyn K. Alaimo"Chicago Botanic Garden" (06/30/2011)

Much more than a "plant book," this is a beauty packed with historical detail and art that will feed your eyes, your mind and your spirit as you learn about plants in a way you've never experienced. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is by Bill Laws, who intends the book to be an encyclopedia of "plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization," according to the book jacket. But he has made his encyclopedia so much more. It's chock-full of life, art, typography, history and botany, and I've never been more pleasantly surprised with a "plant book" than this one.... Beautiful art reproductions, classy typography and eye-catching design work together to present a gathering of the history behind these 50 plants that will keep you coming back for a good look (and read) over and over.--Karen Gallagher"Dayton Beach News-Journal" (04/16/2011)

Beautifully illustrated with botanical drawings, paintings, and photos, this fascinating reference offers insights into both botany and social history.--Liz Grogan"Good Times" (06/30/2011)

It is a very useful guide to the basic fifty plants that humans had cultivated from the beginning of agriculture. For each, there is a description of the plant, the botanical name, its native range, and its primary function... There is also a lot of cultural and social history for each plant: Laws explains why it is in the Top Fifty (many plants get two pages here; corn gets six pages). This text is complemented by botanical drawings, paintings and photographs, and quotes from deep thinkers... There's a bibliography for further reading... Audience and level of use: the historically curious, foodies, reference libraries, schools of hospitality and cooking... Well-priced, and it comes with a ribbon bookmark.--Dean Tudor"gothicepicures.blogspot.com" (03/17/2011)

Bill Laws brings trivia buffs a treasure trove of quirky facts about fifty plants that made a difference in the world. It matters not whether you're a gardener or that you simply enjoy learning obscure information -- this is a book for the curious sort.--Kylee Baumle"Horticulture" (04/20/2011)

If the origin of plants interests you, and learning more about the history behind their uses, a new book by Bill Laws is well worth a read. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History provides insight into the way plants used as fuel, food, weapons and medicines have had an impact on civilizations.--David Hobson"Kitchener Record" (04/01/2011)

This is a handsome book. A delight to look at and a pleasure to hold. It is also a pleasure to read, not just because each page is beautifully illustrated but also because of the unusual, unexpected and fascinating histories it charts.... Each page is packed with facts. The Latin names and common names of each plant, a brief outline of its importance to us, the history of its uses and misuses, and countless small details...all give the reader a lot to absorb, but everything is presented in a humorous, easy-going way laced with plenty of curious anecdotes.... Bill Laws weaves together strands of ecological, political and agricultural history. His scope is worldwide and it ranges from the words of early herbalists to the discoveries of modern science. He draws inspiration from myth and legend, and, occasionally from the early philosophers. And the illustrations come from art, history, old magazines and modern botanical photography. Altogether, Laws has done a fine job.--Ann Skea"Midwest Book Review" (04/01/2011)

A fascinating compendium that covers edible medicinal commercial and practical species.--K. Reka Badger"Santa-Barbara News Press" (03/26/2011)

Bill Laws provides a concise profile of each of the plants included in his well-designed book. These informed entries are enhanced by botanical drawings and other illustrations. The entries make for entertaining reading. Even so, my favorite chapter feature was the sidebar box. Inside these brief newsy boxes the reader gets a peek outside the box of the normal. It's a peek at the wildcards that have emerged from the shuffled deck of human experience with plants.--William Scheick"Texas Gardener's Seeds" (03/02/2011)

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, by Bill Laws, presents interesting information and impressions about plants.--Joel Lerner"Washington Post" (03/04/2011)

(reviewed with Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History) These two volumes from Firefly uncover some of the most interesting stories of how animals and plants have impacted human civilization in economic, political, and industrial history. This is an original approach that links the biological sciences to the social sciences and students and general readers will find many interesting stories within these pages.--Shannon Graff Hysell"American Reference Books Annual 2012" (04/01/2012)

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History offers capsule summaries of the culinary, medicinal, commercial, or practical significance of 50 familiar plants. Some will be obvious (wheat, wine grapes), but Laws manages to throw in some interesting and little-known history about each. For example, the 17th-century French Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, who helped develop still wines in the region of Champagne, is sometimes credited with first sealing a wine bottle with a stopper made from cork oak; and pharmacist Wilbur Scoville devised a test for rating the heat of a chili pepper in 1912.--George M. Eberhart"C and RL News (Association of College and Research" (10/01/2011)

We can't live without plants. They provide oxygen, food, clothes, medicine and shelter. From great lists of all-important plants, social historian Bill Laws brings us the fascinating stories of 50 that have actually altered civilizations. Among them: black pepper, which led to a need for banking; sugar, which fueled the slave trade; and white willow, used to make aspirin, cricket bats, hot-air balloon baskets and coffins. You might want to pick up two copies of this beautifully illustrated, fun read--one for the gardener on your list and one for you.--Kathy Huber"Houston Chronicle" (12/16/2011)

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws is a perfect book for residents as well as visitors. Almost all the plants grow in Hawaii, and the short historical articles are beautifully illustrated with well-chosen color artwork. Coconut, pineapple, sugarcane and coffee are among the plants pleasantly presented. The built-in ribbon bookmark is a perfect touch for this small hardback.--Clear Englebert"West Hawaii Today" (12/20/2011)

The illustrations are from other works, but, honestly, I hardly looked at them because the prose packed such a wallop.--Linda Yang"North American Rock Garden Society (www.nargs.org)" (01/31/2012)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] (reviewed with Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History) These two volumes from Firefly uncover some of the most interesting stories of how animals and plants have impacted human civilization in economic, political, and industrial history. This is an original approach that links the biological sciences to the social sciences and students and general readers will find many interesting stories within these pages.--Shannon Graff Hysell"American Reference Books Annual 2012" (04/01/2012)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] How wonderful are plants! That is the theme of this compilation of stories of the usefulness of 50 remarkable plants. Attractively illustrated, the text contains short essays on plants that provide sustenance, medicine, fragrance, spice, color, clothing, and much more. Lest we forget, the common sweet pea provided the means for establishing the scientific field of genetics. This marvelous collection of tales deserves to be read and enjoyed.--Marilyn K. Alaimo"Chicago Botanic Garden" (06/30/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Much more than a "plant book," this is a beauty packed with historical detail and art that will feed your eyes, your mind and your spirit as you learn about plants in a way you've never experienced. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is by Bill Laws, who intends the book to be an encyclopedia of "plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization," according to the book jacket. But he has made his encyclopedia so much more. It's chock-full of life, art, typography, history and botany, and I've never been more pleasantly surprised with a "plant book" than this one.... Beautiful art reproductions, classy typography and eye-catching design work together to present a gathering of the history behind these 50 plants that will keep you coming back for a good look (and read) over and over.--Karen Gallagher"Dayton Beach News-Journal" (04/16/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Beautifully illustrated with botanical drawings, paintings, and photos, this fascinating reference offers insights into both botany and social history.--Liz Grogan"Good Times" (06/30/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] It is a very useful guide to the basic fifty plants that humans had cultivated from the beginning of agriculture. For each, there is a description of the plant, the botanical name, its native range, and its primary function... There is also a lot of cultural and social history for each plant: Laws explains why it is in the Top Fifty (many plants get two pages here; corn gets six pages). This text is complemented by botanical drawings, paintings and photographs, and quotes from deep thinkers... There's a bibliography for further reading... Audience and level of use: the historically curious, foodies, reference libraries, schools of hospitality and cooking... Well-priced, and it comes with a ribbon bookmark.--Dean Tudor"gothicepicures.blogspot.com" (03/17/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Bill Laws brings trivia buffs a treasure trove of quirky facts about fifty plants that made a difference in the world. It matters not whether you're a gardener or that you simply enjoy learning obscure information -- this is a book for the curious sort.--Kylee Baumle"Horticulture" (04/20/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] We can't live without plants. They provide oxygen, food, clothes, medicine and shelter. From great lists of all-important plants, social historian Bill Laws brings us the fascinating stories of 50 that have actually altered civilizations. Among them: black pepper, which led to a need for banking; sugar, which fueled the slave trade; and white willow, used to make aspirin, cricket bats, hot-air balloon baskets and coffins. You might want to pick up two copies of this beautifully illustrated, fun read--one for the gardener on your list and one for you.--Kathy Huber"Houston Chronicle" (12/16/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] If the origin of plants interests you, and learning more about the history behind their uses, a new book by Bill Laws is well worth a read. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History provides insight into the way plants used as fuel, food, weapons and medicines have had an impact on civilizations.--David Hobson"Kitchener Record" (04/01/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] This is a handsome book. A delight to look at and a pleasure to hold. It is also a pleasure to read, not just because each page is beautifully illustrated but also because of the unusual, unexpected and fascinating histories it charts.... Each page is packed with facts. The Latin names and common names of each plant, a brief outline of its importance to us, the history of its uses and misuses, and countless small details...all give the reader a lot to absorb, but everything is presented in a humorous, easy-going way laced with plenty of curious anecdotes.... Bill Laws weaves together strands of ecological, political and agricultural history. His scope is worldwide and it ranges from the words of early herbalists to the discoveries of modern science. He draws inspiration from myth and legend, and, occasionally from the early philosophers. And the illustrations come from art, history, old magazines and modern botanical photography. Altogether, Laws has done a fine job.--Ann Skea"Midwest Book Review" (04/01/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] The illustrations are from other works, but, honestly, I hardly looked at them because the prose packed such a wallop.--Linda Yang"North American Rock Garden Society (www.nargs.org)" (01/31/2012)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] A fascinating compendium that covers edible medicinal commercial and practical species.--K. Reka Badger"Santa-Barbara News Press" (03/26/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Bill Laws provides a concise profile of each of the plants included in his well-designed book. These informed entries are enhanced by botanical drawings and other illustrations. The entries make for entertaining reading. Even so, my favorite chapter feature was the sidebar box. Inside these brief newsy boxes the reader gets a peek outside the box of the normal. It's a peek at the wildcards that have emerged from the shuffled deck of human experience with plants.--William Scheick"Texas Gardener's Seeds" (03/02/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, by Bill Laws, presents interesting information and impressions about plants.--Joel Lerner"Washington Post" (03/04/2011)

[Review of hardcover edition: ] Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws is a perfect book for residents as well as visitors. Almost all the plants grow in Hawaii, and the short historical articles are beautifully illustrated with well-chosen color artwork. Coconut, pineapple, sugarcane and coffee are among the plants pleasantly presented. The built-in ribbon bookmark is a perfect touch for this small hardback.--Clear Englebert"West Hawaii Today" (12/20/2011) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Bill Laws


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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen 38 Rezensionen
75 von 77 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Plants, Civilization, and Human nature 28. April 2011
Von allanbecker-gardenguru - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History
I have just read a gripping saga. Ostensibly, it's about plants, but actually, it's about us. This collection of anecdotes details how plants influenced human behavior which, in turn, affected the course of history. By chronicling the commercial activity surrounding the discovery and marketing of the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and the plants we transform, the author describes how those activities impacted wars, political boundaries, habits, social behavior, and addictions. I thought that I would be reading an encyclopedia of the history of important plants, but in fact, I was delving into an immensely fascinating epic about western civilization. No sooner had I completed an exciting chapter about one plant, when I could hardly wait to begin reading about the next.

The influence that plants had, and still continue to have, on our lives becomes apparent when we think about the amount of fossil fuel we consume, the large number of botanical gardens constructed around the world, and the considerable investments we make in our gardens. But that is only a small part of the bigger story. With this publication, the author identifies 50 plants that have altered the history of life on earth. Here are just a few tid-bits:-

-The discovery of the pineapple in the New World inspired the invention of the green house in Europe.
-Hemp was used to manufacture the paper used to write the American Declaration of Independence.
-Agave is used in the manufacture of bullets.
-Coconut is integral to making sterile I.V. drips.
-The opium poppy transformed the history of China. .
-Trade in black pepper created a need for banking.
-Peoples' craving for sugar influenced the growth of the slave trade.
-The French revolution may be traced to the significance of bread and a poor wheat harvest.
-8,800 pounds of mulberry leaves are needed to feed silkworms to supply enough yarn to make one blouse.
-Coffee is indirectly responsible for the Boston Tea Party and Harry Potter.
-Cotton uses only 3% of the world's farmland but 25% of the world's pesticides.
- painting of sunflowers changed the art world
-Fire-resistant uniforms are manufactured using Eucalyptus.

The author reports that in addition to influencing the course of history, some plants have also contributed to the self destructive behavior of some people. Many have done themselves harm from the weight gained by overeating sugar, from administering plant - based narcotics, or by drinking alcohol. Others have damaged their bodies by inhaling nicotine into their lungs or by marinating their liver with alcoholic beverages. On balance though, we also experience safe pleasures from plants by drinking tea or wine, by inhaling the fragrance of flowers, and by stroking a silk garment.

Reading this book is better than watching a documentary. It runs at a fast-paced clip from one plant to another, constantly revealing fascinating details about civilization, economics, and above all, human nature.
33 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Great title falls short on promise 17. April 2012
Von Kindle Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
"Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History" is an intriguing title but falls short of its promise. The author has selected fifty plants from around the world and provided a 2-4 page profile of each, supplemented by a short list of facts (native habitat, height), images, and sidebars. The stories interweave commercial, medicinal, economic, and social roles played by plants over time, however, it can be a bit disorganized and jumpy at times, and you occasionally find yourself thinking, "so what's the point of this paragraph?"--a better editor could have tightened this up.

A major failure is that the author didn't convince me that history changed because of these plants--there's often no clear before-and-after picture drawn by the stories. It might be there, but the author seems distracted by other facts, quotes, or stories that he lost track of the core message. For example, the entry on Wild Cabbage is centered around Clarence Birdseye's development of frozen food, starting with his experience freezing cabbages in his northern Canadian home. Frozen food did introduce major changes in diet (ability to eat foods out of season), household practices (emphasis on convenience, larger home freezers) but they're not even mentioned. Instead, he spends most of the time discussing the inclusion of cabbages in Victory Gardens (which I'm not sure changed history).

Perhaps the book should be named "The Fifty Most Important Plants in the World", but then he'd still have difficulties--he neglects to mention cabbage in its pickled form is a defining element in some cultures (as sauerkraut in Germany or kimchee in Korea), providing an important source of nutrition in winter months. Perhaps he didn't conduct sufficient research--the bibliography is superficial and misses much of the recent scholarship on the history of food (for example, John McPhee, Michael Pollan, and Andrew Smith are all absent).

If you're seeking scholarship or expecting to understand the watershed moments in food history, you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for a nicely designed book and a light entertaining read about food, you'll enjoy it.
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A different and entertaining look at 50 top plants 22. September 2011
Von Wiltshire Bookworm - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Just when you think there's nothing new to be said, Bill Laws has come up with a most entertaining guide stuffed full of the stories and trivia surrounding 50 of our most well-known (and used) plants.

Each of them is categorised into whether it has value as an edible, medicinal, commercial or practical use with most of them fitting into at least two of the categories. The entries are ordered by latin name, so Agave is the first and Ginger (Zingiber) is the last, with all kinds of treasures in between such as maize, ferns, English oak, tea, hemp and tulip. Don't worry, you don't need to be a latin scholar to enjoy this book as on the whole greater prominence is given to the more well-known common names.

There's a tiny thumbnail sketch outlining each plant's natural geographical distribution, the type of plant it is and the height it typically grows to. The bulk of each entry (usually a double page spread, but with longer entries for plants such as wheat which has thousands of years of history associated with it) is taken up with the stories and quirky facts which make up the role each has played in our history and culture over many centuries.

Each entry is accompanied by a botanical illustration or a photograph showing the key features of the plant or the component (such as cardamom seeds) generally used. There's also plenty of photographs, quotations, art and drawings to help fill out the story. As well as the main article, there's also separate box(es) featuring some quirky detail: who would have thought that the humble leek would be the vegetable featured in a 4,000 year-old recipe for instance?

Whilst I loved this book on the whole, there's a couple of gripes which stopped me giving it the full five star treatment. Firstly BCE and CE are used instead of BC and AD respectively to indicate dates. It's the first time I'd come across this alternative notation, it wasn't explained in the book and so it jarred with me each time I saw it. I've asked around and most people I know aren't aware of this convention either.

I also believe the book needs to be strengthened with a chapter giving much more historical context. I found the individual stories tended to jump around rather and a timeline representation would have helped to show exactly where each plant fits into our history and also in relation to each other. For example, this would have clearly shown the parallel development of wheat and potatoes as key edible crops on different continents over thousands of years and not just the few centuries the potato has been used in Europe.

On the whole it's an attractive introduction to a fascinating aspect of plant history, which I'd like to study in more detail sometime.

First reviewed on Amazon.co.uk
28 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen This Book Will Make You Dumber 2. Februar 2014
Von Solas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
My wife bought me this book for Christmas, and I really wanted to like it. The cover is attractive, the content layout is artistic, the illustrations are great. It *looks* like a fantastic reference book.

The problem is, this book is an agglomeration of half-right anecdotes and misremembered history. I am by no means an expert in the fields of history, botany, chemistry, or the other areas he covers, but as I was reading, I kept running into "facts" I was pretty sure were either incorrectly presented or outright false. Here are few choice "facts" from the intro and first few chapters (I couldn't bring myself to read any further):

-Plants evolved photosynthesis in response to a climate catastrophe (nope, the evolution of photosynthesis was the *source* of a radical change in the *atmosphere*, and possibly climate, by introducing large quantities of oxygen)
-The hole in the ozone is attributed to fossil fuels (No, no; global warming is attributed to the use of fossil fuels, the ozone hole was because of CFC's)
-Frozen pollen in the Antarctic ice will tell us if the hole in the ozone was "prefigured millions of years ago" (this is so mangled I'm not even sure what the original fact was that he messed up; regardless he is wrong)
-plants have always controlled the balance of land erosion and regulated oxygen/carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (firstly, there was a time before plants, secondly plants are net sources of oxygen and net sinks of carbon dioxide; they don't regulate either of them, it is the balance of plants and animals that does that)
-He appears to be implying that bamboo-reinforced concrete is three to four times as strong as steel reinforced concrete (bamboo reinforced concrete has an ultimate strength about 35% as high as steel reinforced: see this paper [...]
-The US government didn't want people to plant gardens during WWII (the opposite is true, see Victory Gardens)
-The Chinese invented dynamite (no, they invented gunpowder)

The publisher really needs to overhaul their fact-checking process after letting this one through. That this book has so many glowing professional reviews is also disconcerting. I guess they were more concerned with whether it was entertaining than right. Even if this random anecdotes in this book were accurate, the frequently have little to do with the plants. The title should perhaps be "50 Stream-of-Consciousness Essays That Use Plants as Starting Points".

In conclusion, if you read this book and internalize the information presented within, you will be worse informed than you were before you started.
21 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Lightweight, inaccurate in details; very disappointing 7. August 2012
Von Lisa - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The concept of this book is wonderful, and there is a huge amount of detail, but the many inaccuracies in both details and excessively sweeping generalizations are hard to take.

E.g. the silk road started in "Xi'an, (Siam, now Thailand)" Or that "[the Cultural Revolution] was the first time since 2800 BCE that [rice] had failed [China's] farmers". There are many more; the photo of sugar beet plantation under sugar cane, the muddle of the history of the olive...

Some sections I fail to see any impact on history; Cardamom has nothing significant and doesn't belong (I can think of several that make more sense than Cardamom... maybe the author had more interested details on Cardamom and that was the criteria). Ferns are important via coal leading to the industrial revolution. Apparently impact of sweet pea is that a different plant, the garden pea, led to genetic insights.

Other than the annoyance factor, it's not bad for (very) light reading and some of the pictures are nice. But it's really a shame: I love gardening and I find history fascinating, and I can't imagine any book more interesting than a well-done, thoughtful and accurate book about the plants that have impacted history.
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