- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Pegasus Books; 1 edition (June 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 160598566X
- ISBN-13: 978-1605985664
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Papyrus: The Plant that Changed the World: From Ancient Egypt to Today's Water Wars 1st Edition
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Is there anything that papyrus can’t do? The tall, tassel-topped reed can be made into boats, mats, baskets, ropes, and, of course, paper. But its greatest usefulness may be serving as a natural water treatment plant, a role that occupies much of Gaudet’s presentation of a plant he has intensively studied. Describing various regions of Africa where papyrus swamps still exist, Gaudet explains their ecological effect of keeping water clean, their potential to ameliorate pollution, and the contextual politics of water use. Along the Nile River, at Lake Tanganyika and environs, and further south on the Zambezi and Okavango Rivers, Gaudet touts the potential of papyrus to contribute to solutions of neighboring countries’ conflicts over water. But papyrus-the-peacemaker is not what most readers associate with the plant; it is ancient Egypt, with which Gaudet begins his book. Noting its former range (little papyrus grows in modern Egypt), Gaudet ambles from properties of papyrus that underlie its usefulness to its ubiquitous depiction in pharaonic art and monumental architecture. Offering abundant information, Gaudet’s combination of environmental advocacy and botanical objectivity forms a unique resource about a unique organism. --Gilbert Taylor
“This fascinating and beautifully written book is an absolute eye opener into the extraordinary world of papyrus. John Gaudet has a remarkable story to tell, and he tells it extremely well. This is a wonderful, enlightening book with an important message for those concerned with the fragile ecology of our world.”
- Alexander McCall Smith, bestselling author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
“A versatile plant that has played a huge ecological and economic role, papyrus is brought into focus by John Gaudet in this outstanding book – a fascinating read, an enlightening story.”
- Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
“A fascinating account of the plant that provided the world with paper for the first four thousand years of its history. I learned a lot from this book, not only about papyrus but also about how wetlands can serve as filters for waste-water and how marshes and tropical swamps can help conserve valuable water. Lively and well written.”
- Jean-Daniel Stanley, Senior Scientist Emeritus, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
“The hardy reed that stood at the center of ancient Egyptian civilization can foster sustainable growth in the 21st century, asserts ecologist Gaudet...The challenges are daunting, but Gaudet’s detailed, undogmatic account of multiple attempts to counter overdevelopment with better practices inspires cautious optimism.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“One of the ways that papyrus changed the world was by providing the model, both structural and spatial, for the first temple complexes. The history of western architecture begins with the papyrus plant. John Gaudet tells a fascinating tale of the transmutation of vegetable into mineral, of graceful stems and umbels into the first stone columns, and of gladed swamps into sacred precincts. Architects and architectural historians should read this book and learn more about the beautiful and useful plant that inspired the earliest works of monumental architecture.”
- Colin Davies, Former Editor of the Architects’ Journal and Professor of Architectural Theory at London Metropolitan University
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I was fascinated to learn about the usefulness and importance of the Papyrus plant as, prior to reading the book, I...Read more