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Weeds: An Environmental History of Metropolitan America (Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ) Hardcover – March 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“”The historiography of the persistence of happenstance plants and the enduring human conception of their meaning has found rich expression in this book. Indeed Falck’s insights offer a singular contribution to a field that began forty years ago by interrogating the formation of the conservation movement and its wild and monumental artifacts—the national forests and parks—as emblems of the American claim to be nature’s nation.”
—American Historical Review

“Gives a novel perspective . . . Falck’s fascinating, detailed case studies of court proceedings to compel residents to remove ‘weeds’ from their land remind us that the land of the free has been remarkably authoritarian in its pursuit of the ubiquitous American lawn.”
—Australian Garden History

“An important reconsideration of the story of urban development during the last two centurires. . . . Commendable for its author’s ability to tease out the social and the ecological in order to tell a sophisticated urban environmental history. “

—Environmental History

“Falck reinterprets cities from the perspective of some of their most unwanted inhabitants—the plants that choked vacant lots and sprang from sidewalk cracks. Such vegetation reveals how residents experienced urban life—their aspirations and discontents, their feelings about their neighbors, and what they did about it all. Who knew so much history lay among the weeds?”
—Jared Orsi, Colorado State University

“Theodore Dreiser once declared that weeds would become ‘indispensable.’ Now Zachary Falck reveals that weeds are indeed indispensable to the history of metropolitan America. In this richly researched and contextualized work, Falck shows how much ecological history of the city has yet to be explored. Here we begin to see just how fully nature and culture blend in cities, and how weeds—at times loathed and admired—can be used to illustrate Americans’ changing ideas of nature and the city.”
—David Stradling, University of Cincinnati

About the Author

Zachary J. S. Falck, Ph.D. is a historian who resides in Pittsburgh, PA.


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Product Details

  • Series: Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822944057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822944058
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,005,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Scott on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Weeds is a scholarly book but it is an insightful and readable one. It will likely be of interest to environmental, urban, and American historians, urban sociologists, maybe some public health types, and hands-in-the-dirt folks like botanists and gardeners as well as those of us fixated with our lawns. It is chocked full of illuminating information about the plants most of us call weeds (who knew that long ago ragweed used to be a food stuff?) and our relationship with them. Weeds tells the reader why we call, in the author's words, "happenstance plants" weeds and what we mean when we use the term. The book describes the evolution of America's war on weeds, with armaments most often supplied by chemical and pharmaceutical companies. It does not seem to me that there will be any winners (or losers) but this book provides remarkable insight into why the war on weeds will likely continue. There is an excellent section on cannabis in urban areas, NYC in particular. The book is well-referenced with some wonderful historical photographs.
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