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Ginseng Dreams: The Secret World of America's Most Valuable Plant Hardcover – March 10, 2006

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$22.46 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Ginseng Dreams: The Secret World of America's Most Valuable Plant + Ginseng: How to Find, Grow, and Use North America's Forest Gold, 2nd Edition + Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and other Woodland Medicinals
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the ginseng root is a mainstay of Chinese medicine, it's as American as apple pie: in fact, for over 300 years, Americans have exported ginseng to China. Today an acre of ginseng can bring a farmer $100,000. Travel and environmental writer Johannsen (Ecotourism in Appalachia: Marketing the Mountains) takes readers into America's ginseng fields and forests. Ginseng is one of the most devilish plants to cultivate, taking up to a decade to be ready for market and growing in only the most specific conditions. Despite the root's persistent popularity, the difficulty of farming ginseng, the constant threat of poachers and the dwindling number of wild ginseng plants has rendered its future uncertain. Instead of focusing on the medicinal powers of ginseng to those who can afford it, Johannsen paints a picture of the poor in Appalachia who still rely on wild ginseng to provide some cash in lean times. Unfortunately, she lapses into long descriptions of ginseng farming that would bore all but the most devoted horticulturalist. For many, ginseng holds the promise of perfect health and miracle cures. Johannsen shows that, for just as many, ginseng holds an even more American dream—that of instant riches. (Mar.)
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Review

"A Book Sense Notable Pick Johannsen's book brews up an intriguing tale. By the end, the twisty root has corkscrewed its way into your heart and mind. Five stars."―Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Johannsen paintsa clear picture of the mythic nature of ginseng: its medicinal properties, commercial vagaries, and finicky growth requirements leading to gold rush-style boom or bust cycles. While other writers have focused on how toproduce and use ginseng, Johannsen instead writes with a journalist's eye, poking into the offbeat nooks and crannies of this mysterious plant."―Library Journal

"For many, ginseng holds the promise of perfect health and miracle cures. Johannsen shows that, for just as many, ginseng holds an even more American dream"―Publishers Weekly

"This is a narrative that sings of the earth and the people's relationship to that land. It is the story of a humble root that bears the promise of health and wealth and happiness."―Ron Pen, University of Kentucky

"Kristin Johannsen has written a beautiful book that answers every question I ever had about ginseng, and some I hadn't even thought of yet. However, Johannsen has done more than create a font of knowledge about ginseng. Instead she has provided us with a wonderful study of a culture, preserving a way of life that may slip away far too soon. This is a tender, informative, wise, and lovely book."―Silas House

"Kristin Johannsen reveals the fascinating, and often hidden, world of American ginseng through the stories of the people who inhabit it. She describes, with equal grace and felicity, the centuries-old culture of 'sang diggin' that pervades the hills and hollows of Appalachia; the dramatic contrast between Hong Kong's towering glass skyscrapers and the modest traditional medicine shops that thrive in their shadows; the enticing but uncertain enterprise of ginseng farming; and the compelling new western research evidencing ginseng's efficacy (long accepted in China) as both aphrodisiac and cancer treatment."―W. Scott Persons, author of American Ginseng: Green Gold

"The descriptions of the woodland habitat of the plant itself and the pleasures of hunting ginseng in the leaf mold of a damp autumnal forest did make me want to go for a tramp in the woods."―Washington Post Book World

"Together, Ginseng Dreams presents a tale that provides the reader with an illuminating, compassionate, and often entertaining view of Appalachian ginseng harvesting."―Douglas Deur, Agricultural History

"Ginseng Dreams is a delightful book for anyone who enjoys light reading about such a fascinating plant/medicine/folklore icon. [It] is well researched and appeals to both professional and lay persons who are interested in both herbs and the unlikely merging of cultures from Appalachia to Asia."―Robert Beyfuss, Herbalgram

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; 1 edition (March 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123844
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By viktor_57 on April 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I grew up eating ginseng root and drinking ginseng tea, often being told of its curative and healthful properties. I always took such claims with a grain of salt, but occasionally I would hear of studies purporting to validate ginseng's restorative ability in the endurance of rats. Unknown to me then, an American variety of ginseng grows in the eastern U.S. and has been harvested and exported for over three hundred years. Here was a story waiting to be told, and Ms. Johannsen's "Ginseng Dreams" tells it from the perspective of both the plant and the people whose lives have fallen under its spell.

As the book's subtitle suggests, the focus of "Ginseng Dreams" is the ecology and economics of American ginseng, with particular emphasis on the preservation and cultivation of wild ginseng in Appalachia and Wisconsin. A highly valuable Chinese export, with prices reaching $500 a pound, American ginseng attracts poachers who take plants from public lands. Along with the destruction of ginseng's natural forest habitat, the combination of greed, urban development, and ginseng's need for precise growing conditions-- just the right amount of shade on a slope neither too steep for runoff of valuable nutrients nor too shallow to pool water and not too crowded with other ginseng plants, for starters--suggest a bleak future for wild American ginseng, especially when enforcement of existing laws protecting wild plants is impotent at best.

Johannsen writes with immediacy and vividly of her various ginseng excursions, whether trekking through the shady forests of Kentucky with a field researcher, visiting ginseng dealers in the oppressive heat of Hong Kong, or attending a class with eager-eyed entrepreneurs on ginseng cultivation.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The use and influence of ginseng in the lives of seven who have invested their lives and money in its promise is documented in a history which blends botany and economics under one cover. Ginseng is consumed by hundreds of millions in Asia daily and commands a hefty price, but despite its high selling price, the future of American ginseng is uncertain - threatened by environmental problems. Seven personal stories are used to illustrate ginseng's problems and potentials.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Dilcher on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a tour of Ginseng interviews with people who deal with, grow and have had some interest in the plant. It gives very little practicle hands on information for growing Ginseng.
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