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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

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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!)

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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.

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Another wonderful book from Michael Pollan

I have never read a Michael Pollan book that I didn't like and this one is no exception

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Enjoyable story of agriculture

I liked the authors mostly unbiased approach to the history if modern agriculture. Although he didn't get everything perfectly right, his persoective of modern agriculture from an outsiders view is illuminating. I am a soybean breeder and I appreciate Pollan's narrative of our story, or the story of where our food comes from. This is important for everyone to know.

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Great book covers much more than plants

Pollan discusses plants as so much more than the simple, discrete objects we tend to view them as.

Scott Brick's narration is excellent.

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Good Book, Lots of Information

If you could sum up The Botany of Desire in three words, what would they be?

Wealth of Information

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Botany of Desire?

The description of Johnny Appleseed's activities.

Any additional comments?

Well researched, very detailed, interesting and unique subject matter.

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Has its good points and interesting but verbose

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend extracts of the book.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The history of the apple and potato.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

narrator is fine. the book is too verbose and repeats itself in 3 different way over and over again.

Do you think The Botany of Desire needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

no

Any additional comments?

great ideas and thoughts and concepts. wish it was about half as long. It seemed like a thesis paper that was trying too hard with too much flourish.

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  • MD
  • Boston
  • 03-08-14

What a great story teller

What made the experience of listening to The Botany of Desire the most enjoyable?

Michael Pollen is a master at weaving a story that engages the reader to open their mind to to a new persecutive that is often overlooked or ignored. I listened to this book two times in a row because the writing is so rich in detail. The story of the apple, tulip, cannabis, and potato are told through the lens of history, science, agriculture and psychology. I think differently about each one now and have recommend this book to numerous people.

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  • Julie
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 01-29-14

This book re-inspired me to eat potatoes

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely, and bought it for my brother for his birthday. It has a rare combination of poetry in the writing even though the book is nonfiction and you learn a lot about the history of agriculture and what's actually happening with the apples and potatoes that end up on our plates. It's sort of a political topic, but he manages to make the book incredibly entertaining and gorgeous to listen to. The Omnivore's Dilemma is one of my favourite books, and this one did not disappoint from my high standards of Michael Pollan.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Botany of Desire?

The long list of local names for apples--hilarious, sweet, gorgeous, and evocative.

What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

I think a good narrator is almost one you don't notice--his performance wasn't distracting from the story at all, so I think he really embodied it.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, but it did re-ignite my desire to eat potatoes, which I'd always thought of as kind of a boring vegetable. I didn't know how nutritious they are, and their political stance as having rescued the Irish from persecution (until monoculture ruined everything of course) gives them street cred.

Any additional comments?

I think you'd like this book whether you are a fiction or a non-fiction lover. Pollan really knows how to bridge the gap.

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I'm not a botanist. But I loved this.

Would you listen to The Botany of Desire again? Why?

I have listened to it twice. It is a wealth of information told in an interesting way.

What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

For a book about plants, he makes it seem like a beautiful fairy tail. He makes the words interesting and adds humor that is believable.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Some of the history is amazing, however it was the authors tail of the cop and the marajuna behind the shed that had me rolling with laughter. I have actually told that story to many friends and all have found it just as hysterical. .

Any additional comments?

The first little bit may seem tedious. But every new story kept me interested. I listened to it when I went for walks and found myself enjoying nature even more because of it.