Planting the World: Joseph Banks and his Collectors: An Adventurous History of Botany


Planting the World: Joseph Banks and his Collectors: An Adventurous History of Botany Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: HarperCollins Publishers
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Pages: 560 Language: English ISBN: 9780007578832 Categories: , , , , , , , , , Tag:

A global history of botany and plant collecting in 18th century based on original research in many languages. Joseph Banks, botanist for Cook’s great voyage to the South Pacific on The Endeavour, was a child of the Enlightenment. He believed that reason, in the shape of scientific knowledge, was the key to political and economic progress. He was also what Malcolm Gladwell terms `a connector’. In the second half of the 18th century, people who wanted something done in science and exploration went to Banks. And what Banks cared most about was botany. Botany was the darling of European science in this period. A bounty of new plants was found wherever European ships ventured, in the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Exotic plants entered and changed Europe in many different ways: as ornamental varieties that began to adorn private gardens; or medicinal agents applied to cure what had been considered incurable conditions; as industrial raw materials; or as new and brilliant dyes. This was a time when travelling physically also meant travelling intellectually. Banks and his fellow pioneers were expanding the horizons of knowledge itself.

Jordan Goodman’s brilliant, epic history tells how science changed the balance of powers in the world. Each of its thirteen chapters follows a different expedition or mission set in motion by Banks.  From Masson’s voyage to Cape Colony, Staunton’s plant hunting in China, James Bowie in Australia, Bligh in Tahiti and Jamaica, Roxburgh and the founding of the Calcutta Botanical Gardens, to name just a few.  It is a vast story, spanning every continent – a huge jigsaw, told through meticulous use of Banks’s 20,000 extant letters, scattered across the globe from San Francisco to Australia. Planting the World is a book that tells great stories, on every continent of the planet.

Weight1.091376 kg




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PRAISE FOR PLANTING THE WORLD ‘Goodman turns his attention to the “adventurous history” of the botanists, naturalists, gardeners, and ship captains who carried out his vicarious plant-hunting across the world, shining a light on individuals whose achievements are relatively uncelebrated. The book is particularly strong on the minutiae of planning, negotiating, and financing these ventures, and on the disasters that so often beset them … For each expedition, Goodman builds up a picture based on meticulous research in original sources … Goodman illustrates vividly how adept [Banks] was, all through his career, at piggybacking on different government, diplomatic, and mercantile ventures … Planting the World tracks Banks’s projects in detail and illustrates dramatically how difficult it was to move plants around the world’ Jenny Uglow, New York Review of Books ‘A brilliant and authoritative insight into the global reach of Joseph Banks, one of the great figures of the Enlightenment, through the lives of the intrepid botanists, gardeners, and nurserymen whose explorations and adventures made it all possible’ Peter Crane 'The story of 18th century European botanists, their ships and voyages, united by the mind and extraordinary energy of Joseph Banks as he developed both the science and gardens of England. It is a marvellous history packed with naval explorations, plant collecting, and the role of individuals in making Britain a major centre for global botany' Janet Browne