"Shoppers who shun genetically modified foods in favor of 'natural' fruits and veggies may be in for a surprise. Horticulturalist Kingsbury's lively history documents the history of human meddling with plant genes since the dawn of agriculture."
"The reason you and billions of other people will eat today is a century-long effort to increase the yield of crop plants. Hybrid tells the story of the quiet heroes behind this triumph. Noel Kingsbury has written a fantastic history of a subject that should become much better known."
(Gregg Easterbrook, author, Sonic Boom)
“I will never look at a slice of bread or grain of rice the same way, having read Hybrid. By recounting the history of plant breeding, the author has revealed the many choices made in creating the crops of today and yesterday, and challenges us to think about our choices for tomorrow.”
(Cathy Maloney, author of Chicago Gardens)
“In plant breeding, just as in evolution, genetic variety is the raw material of success. Hybrid is the story of how the genes that make a fat corn cob, a luscious apple, a brilliantly orange carrot or a high yielding strain of rice have traveled by serpentine paths to reach the genomes of the crops that we so depend on and yet so take for granted. In Hybrid we learn that there was a green revolution in eleventh-century China when a visionary emperor imported new strains of rice from Indochina; how working men in nineteenth-century Britain made a sport of competitive gooseberry breeding, and how a German doctor discovered hybrid vigor in plants. Hybrid the book displays, like hybrids themselves, all the marvelous fruit of miscellany.”
(Jonathan Silvertown, author of An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds)
“A magnificent achievement—Kingsbury tells this gripping story, with a large cast of characters across the entire span of human civilization, with wit, passion, and erudition.”
(Tim Richardson, author of The Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape)
“Thoughtful, well researched and refreshingly broad in scope, Noel Kingsbury’s Hybrid took me out of my immediate area of expertise (plants and garden history) and opened my eyes to the way previously unsung plant breeders have transformed societies. Accessible to specialists and non-specialists, it should be essential reading for anyone wishing to take an informed view on the future direction of biotechnology.”
(Jennifer Potter, author of Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of t)
"Artfully linking human cultural evolution and the 10,000-year history of plant breeding, Kingsbury moves fluidly between the art and science of plant breeding and the growth of increasingly complex human society and politics. He convinced me, at least temporarily, that plant technologies have been a major contributor to many important developments in human history. . . . Hybrid
provides an informative tour of plant breeding through time, its interface with society and cultural evolution, and the people who contributed to this history. Kingsbury’s account should be required reading for students preparing for a future as a plant breeder, geneticist, or molecular biologist. Fortunately, that requirement should prove unnecessary—the book is engaging at many levels, and I expect many scientists and lay readers to pick it up on their own accord.”—Science
"A novel might be hard pressed to imagine some of the incredible stories covered in this book."
(Neil Lucas The English Gardener