©2001 by Michael Pollan; (P)2006 by Audio Evolution, LLC
"[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)
I'm enjoying the book but I really dislike the whiny tone of the person reading it.
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.
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.
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!".
Very thought provoking. This book is broken up into 4 parts based on 4 plants; the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato. I liked 3 out of 4. the part on the tulip was very boring, consisting of way too much description of what different varieties of tulips look like. I'm on the fence about recommending this, if you're really into the subject go for it. If not, I'd pass.
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.
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.
Scott Brick is a narrator for audio books who sets the standard for a performance. In this work, he's still got it.
"Find out what the best gardeners of the 1980's were up to during the peak of the drug war."
Michael Pollan waxes philosophically about marijuana... I didn't see that coming before listening to this book.
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.
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.
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