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

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
The Botany of Desire A Plant's-Eye View of the World
Author: Michael Pollan
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ISBN-13: 9780375760396
ISBN-10: 0375760393
Publication Date: 5/28/2002
Pages: 304
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 121

3.9 stars, based on 121 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

14 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
A pretty interesting study of a few types of plants. I didn't love how the author anthropomorphized the plants, and he took a lot of liberties with how he describes evolution, but that won't bother everyone. As a serious scientist, that stuff gets on my nerves! The book is definitely worth reading.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I do not normally read non fiction books so I have to admit that I was not looking forward to this book club pick. Surprisingly, the book turned out to be pretty good. It had lots of interesting information in it. I especially liked the section on apples and potatoes. I don't know if I'll ever eat another fast food french fry ever again! Even though it wasn't the type of book that you get lost in, I still enjoyed it.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 141 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Erudite, engaging and highly original, journalist Pollan's fascinating account of four everyday plants and their coevolution with human society challenges traditional views about humans and nature. Using the histories of apples, tulips, potatoes and cannabis to illustrate the complex, reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world, he shows how these species have successfully exploited human desires to flourish. "It makes just as much sense to think of agriculture as something the grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees," Pollan writes as he seamlessly weaves little-known facts, historical events and even a few amusing personal anecdotes to tell each species' story. For instance, he describes how the apple's sweetness and the appeal of hard cider enticed settlers to plant orchards throughout the American colonies, vastly expanding the plant's range. He evokes the tulip craze of 17th-century Amsterdam, where the flower's beauty led to a frenzy of speculative trading, and explores the intoxicating appeal of marijuana by talking to scientists, perusing literature and even visiting a modern marijuana garden in Amsterdam. Finally, he considers how the potato plant demonstrates man's age-old desire to control nature, leading to modern agribusiness's experiments with biotechnology. Pollan's clear, elegant style enlivens even his most scientific material, and his wide-ranging references and charming manner do much to support his basic contention that man and nature are and will always be "in this boat together." ---Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 99 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Read for a botany class. Great read, informative but fun.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 289 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Plants as subjects, humans as bees: The Botany of Desire is an interesting, thought-provoking look at the relationship of humans and plants. Michael Pollan focuses on four plants (apple, tulip, cannabis, and potato) and how they relate to the human desires of sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control, respectively. The PBS documentary of the same name focused more on the scientific aspects, perhaps because those were more visually appealing and less controversial. In book form, Pollan proceeds in a more reflective mode, for example discussing the Apollonian and Dionysian duality throughout. His intelligence, grasp of evolutionary biology and its implications, and love of gardening shine through. The idea that plants and humans co-evolve—that we humans may have done the evolutionary bidding of plants— gives The Botany of Desire paradigm-shifting potential by inviting the reader re-evaluate the proper role of humans in the natural order.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
If you are picking up this book, finish it!!! The first two chapters, with a focus on Apples and Tulips can be a big long and repetitive, but the final two chapter, focused on Marijuana and Potatoes, are phenomenal. The insights that Pollan reveals are amazing and really make you rethink the way the world we live in was constructed.
Truly, our plant society has been created for us, manipulating the reproductive properties and places plants are allowed to live to create a strange amalgam of resources at our fingertips. And as a result, those products adapt and change their life, as well as ours. With many opinions on the subject myself, it was nice to read the chapter on marijuana and get some new insights.
Very insightful book. Makes you see the 'natural' world around you in a new light.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 17 more book reviews
Looks at four plant species, the apple, tulip, marijuana, and the potato and how their evolution is entwined with the desires of human beings. The author writes a column on evolutionary biology for the NY Times and has a blog on the same subject:
http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/flower_power.php
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 27 more book reviews
Honestly, I couldn't get into this book, but many of my friends loved it.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 9 more book reviews
An excellent book for animated discussions!
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 7 more book reviews
The made a great discussion for our AAUW book club! A different read...well worth the time.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 181 more book reviews
I really enjoyed Michael Pollan's rambling essays about human relationships with four plants (apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes). All contained some really interesting historical and botanical factoids, but sometimes he rambled a little too much. I occasionally felt like I was rereading the same information explained in a slightly different way, perhaps in his attempt to make connections overly clear.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 504 more book reviews
This guy has inspired me to grow my own food and keep a few hens in the backyard. Being a little self-reliant in these unsettling times gives me a sense of stability and hope.

In this book, Pollan takes a look at four plants and relates them to human desires, I think . . . He starts things off with the apple and goes into a bit of long-winded ramble about Johnny Appleseed's quest to sell his trees to pioneers and his lust for a 10 year old bride (fortunately this bit wasn't dug into with any sort of detail). Johnny's enthusiasm for the apple and his desire to plant the seed (and refusal to graft) results in the many varieties that adapted to new climates. Though I'm learning a lot about Johnny here, I'd rather have more factoids about the apple. I'm hoping the following chapters are more interesting because I find my mind wandering more than usual while listening to this.

I've now finished up the tulip section and made it about halfway through the marijuana chapter but, at this point, I have come to the realization that this book just doesn't interest me. It's very repetitive and meandering. I'll finish it up and hope the potato's treatment can grab me enough to get through it.

Later: I finished up and did find the potato section much more interesting but that's because I'm always interested in GMO foods, the science, the corruption, the danger to our society, the greed . . . I didn't really learn anything new as this was written quite a few years ago but it still captured my attention all the same.
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on + 384 more book reviews
My husband is a horticulturist and enjoyed the book very much
From Publishers Weekly
Erudite, engaging and highly original, journalist Pollan's fascinating account of four everyday plants and their coevolution with human society challenges traditional views about humans and nature. Using the histories of apples, tulips, potatoes and cannabis to illustrate the complex, reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world, he shows how these species have successfully exploited human desires to flourish. "It makes just as much sense to think of agriculture as something the grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees," Pollan writes as he seamlessly weaves little-known facts, historical events and even a few amusing personal anecdotes to tell each species' story. For instance, he describes how the apple's sweetness and the appeal of hard cider enticed settlers to plant orchards throughout the American colonies, vastly expanding the plant's range. He evokes the tulip craze of 17th-century Amsterdam, where the flower's beauty led to a frenzy of speculative trading, and explores the intoxicating appeal of marijuana by talking to scientists, perusing literature and even visiting a modern marijuana garden in Amsterdam. Finally, he considers how the potato plant demonstrates man's age-old desire to control nature, leading to modern agribusiness's experiments with biotechnology. Pollan's clear, elegant style enlivens even his most scientific material, and his wide-ranging references and charming manner do much to support his basic contention that man and nature are and will always be "in this boat together."
reviewed The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World on
While there is some interesting information in this book, I found it dry and repetitive. Couldn't finish it.