• The Triumph of Seeds

  • How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
  • By: Thor Hanson
  • Narrated by: Marc Vietor
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,394 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life, supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and the humble peppercorn drove the Age of Discovery, so did coffee beans help fuel the Enlightenment and cottonseed help spark the Industrial Revolution. And from the fall of Rome to the Arab Spring, the fate of nations continues to hinge on the seeds of a Middle Eastern grass known as wheat. In nature and in culture, seeds are fundamental - objects of beauty, evolutionary wonder, and simple fascination. How many times has a child dropped the winged pip of a maple, marveling as it spirals its way down to the ground, or relished the way a gust of wind(or a stout breath) can send a dandelion’s feathery flotilla skyward? Yet despite their importance, seeds are often seen as a commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to Thor Hanson and this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more.

©2015 Thor Hanson (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Marc Vietor's mellow, upbeat narration adds personality and energy, and every chapter brings fresh information and insight." ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about The Triumph of Seeds

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, Accessible Book About Little 'Ol Seeds

This was certainly better than I thought it would be. Based on the subject matter I thought this book would be a tad dry; but, on the contrary, it was really interesting and quite entertaining. The writing is very accessible and heavy scientific terms are left by the wayside for the most part. Hanson takes a common item that we take for granted and weaves interesting tales around them to make his point of how seeds shaped the world and influenced its history.

Hanson takes the story back to how seeds evolved to become so successful and the most common way of plant reproduction after spore reproduction was the method of choice during prehistory. Instead of reciting a history of seeds he divided the book in to sections which included information pertaining to how seeds defend themselves, how they travel, how they endure long periods of dormancy, and how the design of different types of seeds helps them flourish. The examples he uses to exemplify each section and chapter are relatable and narrative easy to follow.

Prior to reading the book, my wife and I were talking about fruits and wondered why apple trees, orange trees, peach trees, watermelons, etc., would wrap their seeds with such a large quantity of fruit. This is covered in the book. So are other interesting topics such as the design and function of the seeds of coconuts, coffee, chili peppers, and cotton. Cotton and coffee were given a lot of ink as their popularity basically changed the world, in good ways and bad.

My favorite parts were the discussion of how seeds travel and the chapter about the seed banks found throughout the world, the most famous of which is the Global Seed Vault in Norway. Also, fascinating was the chapter about the endurance of seeds. A 2,000 year old seed found by archaeologists in the ruins of a city in Israel started growing in 2005 and is still flourishing!

I would recommend this to anyone as the subject matter is really interesting and relatable to everyday life. The subject matter is presented more anecdotally than scholarly or technically, knowledge of botany is not necessary. Seeds are everywhere and almost everything we eat and drink every day either was processed from a seed or grew from one. How can you not love them? 4.5 stars

15 people found this helpful

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Delightfully simplistic!

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

This book looks at the history and evolution of seeds. That's it. Thor Hanson's appreciation of seeds and his passion for study are evident, yet he presented the topic in a lighthearted way that was easy for a layman to follow. I enjoyed this book very much.

What other book might you compare The Triumph of Seeds to and why?

I love books that have a small scope, but enlighten me in a big way. This book reminds me of "A History of the World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage, which I read a decade ago, but still keep on my desk.

What about Marc Vietor’s performance did you like?

I thought the content and the narrator were perfectly matched. Marc Vietor did excellent work of bringing this book to life.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have enjoyed listening to this in one sitting. I didn't, but I did listen to it while I walked, shopped, cooked and washed dishes.

Any additional comments?

I didn't know much or care much about seeds when I started this book. I can now confidently speak about seeds because I've enjoyed this wonderful lesson and learned a lot without being lectured to.

60 people found this helpful

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a fantastic book and great narration

this is such an great book. it's so informative and yet feels like you are part of love story between the author and his passion for everything seeds.

29 people found this helpful

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This is an amazing book

This book is very interesting to read you get some history, biology, chemistry, physics and a whole lot of awesome BOTANY.

33 people found this helpful

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Background for a seed lover

Dr Hanson gave me a look inside seeds, their behavior, and place in the context of history and modern life.

He kept the jargon to Botany 101 and infused each chapter with colorful images and metaphors.

28 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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very insightful

I liked the narrator, but not for this book. He seems more suited to mystery or thriller, or even sci-fi, but somehow didn't work for me in this documentary or non fiction genre.
Great book though. I thought it seemed like a mildly interesting topic, but it turned out to be a massively interesting topic.

26 people found this helpful

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more than seeds

I loved the background told in the beginning. I am studying secondary metabolites in plants, and this book was a good compliment to the plant's functions and uses of them.

16 people found this helpful

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just.. .. meh.

there are a few good chapters near the end but it's generally a flop. he spends more time discussing his son and in-laws than he does seeds.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 05-04-16

Inspiring

Concepts from many researchers work laid out and built up with a wealth of experimental findings with wonderful clarity. Enthralling side notes and stories into the part of seeds in history and ever pertinent philosophical paradigms. A core maintained throughout of the story of his own research into the Almendro tree woven perfectly within the wider subject and a sincere admiration of nature's core principles. Brilliant. Thank you Thor, thank you Nature.

21 people found this helpful

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For Gardeners, Geeks & Geniuses alike

If you love natural science, plants or have an abiding interest in the wonders of evolutionary history, this is a great audio book for you. It is well researched, well rounded and delivered in an accessible way by both the author and the narrator.
If these are not things that pique your interest, then you may find this less to your liking.
I enjoyed every minute of it myself. I found it both edifying and inspiring. I must admit, however, that I love the feel of soil between my fingers and that a walk in nature can be a drug free “acid trip” for me. The world around us is simply too amazing for words. When authors like Thor Hanson can put apt prose like this together (with the Professorial knowledge to back it up) I am always both impressed and deeply gratified. Marc Vietor delivered as well, making a scientific work compelling rather than a snoozefest.
This work may require the proper audience- but I think that audience is broader and deeper than many might expect.

3 people found this helpful

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  • shaun mace
  • 09-20-16

very interesting if you're curious about seeds :)

great book if you're into permaculture, sustainable seeds, the planet or plants.

Not the most exciting but am very happy to have read it

2 people found this helpful

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  • K lvt
  • 04-21-19

Great book about seeds

Loved this book, well writen & very well read, interesting yet fun on the subject.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-11-18

fantastic.

A fantastic book. Good narration which is matched to style of book. Very easy to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-23-18

Fantastic book

Really enjoyed this book with so much information and easy to understand, in-depth descriptions. if you have an interest in plants or the natural world, this book definitely worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 06-13-20

Masterful connecting seeds to history, politics,..

Brilliant and additive!! Never thought about how seeds were the defining resource that enabled homo sapiens to become agrarian and therefore evolve!

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  • Lea Hullett
  • 08-15-19

Thor opened my.mind to the wonder seeds are.

so much to take in. Amazing how seeds vary so much and survive in adverse and changing past climates. The history of how humans maniputated many plants for our gain was very informative. Massive seed banks preserve precious genes. I shall listen to this book again.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-08-19

Great book if you don’t know anything about seeds

For someone who was not interested in seeds, this started a little slow. But the book got more interesting as the biology and history of common and peculiar seeds and plants where revealed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-18

marriage of narrator and text is beautiful

the text is performed rather than simply read. fascinating insight, really interesting and very enjoyable.