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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 (1621 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David Boulder, CO, United States 12-08-10
    David Boulder, CO, United States 12-08-10 Member Since 2013
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    "Good, but not amazing"

    I found this book had a significant amount of really, really interesting information relating to the history/botany/biology of the topic plants. I found it very hard to get through the lengthy passages of introspection and other topics that have very little to do with apples, tulips, canabis, or potatos. I think his favorite word is Dionysus. Look for it in every other paragraph.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Agawam, MA, USA 05-25-10
    Joseph Agawam, MA, USA 05-25-10
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    "I found it very interesting!"

    I enjoyed this book, I was afraid it would be a sort of enviro nut type of story, but the author does a decent job of keeping it logical aside from a few global warming references it was very educational. This is the type of book I wouldn't normal download but was glad I did, I will never look at apples and especially potatoes the same way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy Newark, NJ, United States 04-30-10
    wendy Newark, NJ, United States 04-30-10
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    "An excellent listen!!"

    Michael Pollan's book is a joy to listen to, and I was very sad when it ended. I'm off to find some more of his books to listen to- greatly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doris 02-17-10
    Doris 02-17-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Very Disappointing"

    One of the very few books I couldn't finish. There was very little hard science, which is what I wanted. Most of what I heard is now taught in middle school. And the section on apples was almost totally about the legend and reality of Johnny Appleseed. I too quit after the apple section. So different from The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I found fascinating. Same narrator for both, yet in this book he struck the wrong tone.

    1 of 2 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!".

    8 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    history buff louisiana 08-26-09
    history buff louisiana 08-26-09 Member Since 2008

    carol

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    "GREAT LISTEN!"

    great read/listen. this will extend your understanding of what/how/why we eat. i hope he keeps these books coming and continues to expose the truth! pollan for president--or at least secretary of agriculture!!!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 06-25-11
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 06-25-11 Member Since 2015

    on a quest to read Audible's entire nonfiction science section...

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    "Great narration of a wonderful book"

    I'm on a quest to ingest pretty much every science book Audible has to offer (at least in the biological sciences). I have a long way to go but I've done quite a few now; at least 25. My hat is off here to the quality of Michael Pollan's research, writing and thinking; a truly unique perspective and well-reasoned points of view. Some passages are so eloquent and poetic that they absolutely left me agog. But underneath the prose is a scientific acumen and ability to theorize based on the facts that is impressive; he really has some interesting ideas here. They'd be difficult to prove scientifically but they're fun to comtemplate. Not so sure his reasoning was right on associating flowers with the demise of dinosaurs but I'm certainly no authority.

    Scott Brick's reading was absolutely pitch-perfect; it's really the best match of writing and reading I have heard in the science books I've listened to. Brick knows how and when to inflect Pollan's prose with just the right note of humor, sarcasm (a very hard task for readers, apparently) or seriousness. He's never monotonous or droning and he's lively without being contrived.

    Omnivore's Dilemma (also read by Brick) is a more influential and important book but Pollan's passion and lyricism really comes through in this and it's just fun to journey through history, science and contemporary agriculture with Pollan. If you've read this far, I really don't think you'll be disappointed with this book so give it a try!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Marie Forest Hills, NY, United States 07-14-09
    Marie Forest Hills, NY, United States 07-14-09 Member Since 2015
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    "Scrumptious"

    This book has everything you can wish for. It has love, beautiful sex, philosophy, anthropology, poetry, history, mythology, science, and art. It is about pleasure. It serves both the senses and the mind. It makes you laugh, smile, sigh... in delight at every page. And Scott Brick's reading serves Pollan's glorious imagery to perfection.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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