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The Botany of Desire | [Michael Pollan]

The Botany of Desire

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.
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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

4.1 (1494 )
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  •  
    Judd Bagley Utah 11-15-11
    Judd Bagley Utah 11-15-11 Member Since 2006

    Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "30% interesting, 70% blah blah blah"

    This title did not deliver on its original promise of a scientific examination of the co-evolution of humans and four species of plant. Not that it didn't make an attempt, because it did. And yet the author seemed to get consistently -- and deeply -- distracted in ways that I could barely abide.
    It's as though the author sold the concept to a publishing house only to discover that there was not sufficient material on the chosen subjects to fill 300 pages, forcing him to compensate with vast spans of particularly annoying and formless (even...Dionysian?) sophistry.
    I usually avoid abridged books but this is one title that, had it undergone an intensive (even...Apollonian?) abridgement, would have merited an additional one or two stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-29-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-29-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "Unexpectedly absorbing"

    A fascinating history of four human-cultivated plants -- the apple, the potato, the tulip, and the marijuana plant -- which have been bred over the centuries into forms very different from their natural ancestors. Pollan delves into the complex biological history of each plant and the equally complex social history surrounding it, and his own experiences with them, through the interesting question: do we use plants or do plants use us? Pollan is a good journalist and succeeds in making a topic outside my usual interests engaging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. park detroit, MI 10-25-11
    J. park detroit, MI 10-25-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Enchanting"

    I'm not a gardener, and I don't really care about the stories behind the plants and flowers. But this book managed to suck me into the history and presence of it. The first chapter on apple (and the legends of Johnny Appleseed) is simply enchanting.

    I might even try other books by Michael Pollan now. He makes potentially dull subjects (dull to me, personally) into something exciting. Great writer, for sure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shala Kyle, TX, United States 10-20-11
    Shala Kyle, TX, United States 10-20-11

    rodr4210

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    "Not my cup of tea"

    Maybe I should have read the introduction. But I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt and work with it. I was on a 7 1/2 hour trip to New Mexico. Thought thats the best time to listen to it. Three or four chapters in, it just board me to tears. Couldnt take it any more. Was I missing something?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aisha Vancouver, BC, Canada 10-20-11
    Aisha Vancouver, BC, Canada 10-20-11 Listener Since 2008

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Wonderful, Informative Read"

    I didn't really expect to get into this book as much as I did. I thought it was going to be boring information about plants. But the first section of the book on apples got me really interested and I was hooked ever since. Just the way it was written made me feel that the author was very passionate about the subject and then passed that excitement onto me.

    I do admit though that some parts were a little slow. I couldn't fully get into the second section for example. But the other parts of the book made this it still worth the read. At least for me anyway.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dimitri North Strathfield, Australia 10-12-11
    Dimitri North Strathfield, Australia 10-12-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "30% interesting story, 70% philosophical musing"

    This book has buried in it a very interesting story with tasty titbits of history, botany, psychology, general fun and beautiful language, but to get to those one needs to listen through mostly bland and always lengthy philosophical ramblings. I am all in favour of moulding the language into beautiful form for sheer listening pleasure, but in the case of, say, Bill Bryson - I want to rewind and listen again, while in this case I itch to hit fast-forward, but then I might miss the small tasty part in the middle, so I don't.
    If only I could split this book into two parts - captivating story and boring philosophy, and listen to just the first one...

    The narrator's performance is excellent, but I don't know how he managed to get through those passages without falling asleep, which makes it even more commendable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Maui, Hawaii, United States 10-11-11
    Eric Maui, Hawaii, United States 10-11-11 Member Since 2011

    Audiobooks Make Weed Wacking a Pleasure

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved this book"

    This is the most pleasurable audiobook I've heard on Audible. I didn't have any expectations, and I just loved this book. The author meanders through the topics of four plants, and his stories and insights are very interesting. The author's prose is beautiful and the narration is top-notch. I'll probably listen to this audiobook again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heinen Spokane, WA, United States 09-08-11
    Heinen Spokane, WA, United States 09-08-11 Member Since 2011

    Freshly graduated from college and working hard to figure out what my next step will be. Books and stories are my escape from the world.

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    "Give it time"

    This book seems to start slow but when you give it some time and get in to the meat and potatoes of what Pollan has to offer its truly amazing! Well researched and well read... so glad I took a chance on this one! I will definitely be looking in to Pollan's other works!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    ltlrags CA USA 09-03-11
    ltlrags CA USA 09-03-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Much More Than Expected"

    A friend recommended this book and my first thought was, "it doesn't sound like what I like." I couldn't have been happier to have been wrong. And while I thought I would find the story of cannibus most interesting, I was wrong again. Amazingly, it was the lowly potato and apple that I liked most. Who would have thought that the plants would have such interesting stories? Well, now I can say that I know. Thank you Mr. Pollan and Mr. Brick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Beth Freeburg, IL, United States 08-27-11
    Beth Freeburg, IL, United States 08-27-11 Member Since 2010
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    "I wish there was a zero stars rating"

    Just awful. The author goes off point, repeats himself, and never proves his original hypothesis. Complete waste of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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