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The Botany of Desire Audiobook

The Botany of Desire

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: It's hard to believe how much interest one man can generate in plants, but Michael Pollan does it. And he's a bit of an iconoclast, revealing a side of Johnny Appleseed (think hard apple cider) you might not have known, and tiptoeing through generations of tulip hybridization to account for a dearth in rarity. Offbeat or unexpected nonfiction works like this are a pleasure to listen to, placing the most common of things in new light. We learned a lot from this audiobook.

Publisher's Summary

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires, sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control, with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind's most basic yearnings. And just as we've benefited from these plants, the plants have also benefited at least as much from their association with us. So who is really domesticating whom?

©2001 by Michael Pollan; (P)2006 by Audio Evolution, LLC

What the Critics Say

"[Pollan] has a wide-ranging intellect, an eager grasp of evolutionary biology and a subversive streak that helps him to root out some wonderfully counterintuitive points. His prose both shimmers and snaps, and he has a knack for finding perfect quotes in the oddest places....Best of all, Pollan really loves plants." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1831 )
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  •  
    Carol McCluer New York, NY, United States 05-13-11
    Carol McCluer New York, NY, United States 05-13-11 Member Since 2016

    Carol McCluer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dislike the Narrator"

    I'm enjoying the book but I really dislike the whiny tone of the person reading it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 07-15-07
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 07-15-07 Member Since 2010
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    "Not what I hoped"

    I should have read the other reviews before buying this book. The introduction was interesting and I looked forward to the science behind the themes it presented. It was not to be. Way too many musings about the character of Johnny Appleseed for a book I thought would be more about evolution and genetics. Perhaps if I was expecting something different, I would not be as disappointed. I gave up after the Apple chapter.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Strychalski 04-01-09
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    "Good book spoiled by narration"

    Interesting and educatonal, but.....
    Maybe it is well written, and maybe not - the over-dramatic narration gets in the way and is so distracting that it was hard to tell. Every sentence sounds either like a headline or like a parent trying to entice a reluctant toddler to appreciate something suspect. It was so continuously irritating that I will avoid this reader in the future (so it looks like I'll be looking for print versions of any other Michael Pollan I'm curious about).
    Although it's a stretch to say that the themes of "which species is in charge" and "desire" really provided organization or depth for the four separate narratives of this book, they are intriguing ideas and the stories of these plants are worth reading.

    13 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randall D. Raymond Evans, GA USA 10-28-06
    Randall D. Raymond Evans, GA USA 10-28-06 Member Since 2009

    randytoad

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    "A little better"

    I found this book a bit more interesting than The Omnivore's Dilemma. He saves his political screed against the evils of "big agriculture" until the last chapter. The chapters on the apple, cannibis, and the tulip are pretty interesting, and when he isn't preaching the virtues of organic gardening, even the article on the potato is pretty good. Still the narrative seems "padded out" with lots of extraneous literary conceits. At many points in the book, I found myself mumbling "get to the point!".

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shopper 08-22-16
    Shopper 08-22-16
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    "The Omnivore's Prequel"
    What made the experience of listening to The Botany of Desire the most enjoyable?

    My first impression was that this book wasn't what I thought it was. The Omnivore's Dilemma changed the way I think about food. This book starts out with a meandering story about the tourist-y side of Johnny Appleseed. I was prepared to be very, very disappointed. But with the consistent, artful narration by Scott Brick I stuck with the story and am very glad to have taken this journey.

    Through the book you cover some material that lays the foundation, both stylistically and idealistically for Michael Pollan's later work. About half-way through I found myself in a comfortable space, nosing around bits and pieces which which flush out into books like In Defense of Food, and Cooked.


    What other book might you compare The Botany of Desire to and why?

    I'll compare it to the Omnivore's Dilemma by the same author, because the arc of the story across the multiple facets of desire (apples, tulips, cannabis, and a hodgepodge of related concepts) is similar to the tract taken in this later work.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Scott Brick is a narrator for audio books who sets the standard for a performance. In this work, he's still got it.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Find out what the best gardeners of the 1980's were up to during the peak of the drug war."


    Any additional comments?

    Michael Pollan waxes philosophically about marijuana... I didn't see that coming before listening to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Rochester, NY, United States 06-30-16
    Amazon Customer Rochester, NY, United States 06-30-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Wonderful book for a long drive"

    We listened to this book on a long cross-country drive and were fascinated till the last word. Each chapter took us on a journey. I read complaints about the narrator but we found his voice energetic and clear, definitely a plus when zooming along interstate highways.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    T. Dones 04-20-16
    T. Dones 04-20-16
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    "An unusual look"

    Very well written, this shows the passion of author Pollan for chasing the story, as well as his love of food. I highly recommend this well read piece for both plant enthusiasts as well as those looking for an eye opening take on why we humans love the plants we cultivate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 03-06-16
    Jason 03-06-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Michael nailed it"

    A poetic journey through the tales of time; absolutely amazing book. A highly recommended read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    slong 09-28-15
    slong 09-28-15 Member Since 2013
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    "great book!"

    I am a huge fan of Micheal Pollan and this book did not disappoint. I lreally enjoyed how he wove the history of the the various plants (apples, marajuana, tulips, potatoes, etc) with their present day significance. With each chapter being its own story it's easy to listen to over a longer period of time (if that makes sense!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    samuel d desocio 08-02-15 Member Since 2013
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    "The botany of religion?"

    I really like Pollan's work but I wish he would see the duplicity of making the main troupe of the book the Greek gods and then dismissing Christianity and Judaism as old hat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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