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The Story of Corn Paperback – December 15, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fussell has clearly done a good deal of research and a lot of traveling--peering over a precipice at Machu Picchu, descending into a restored ceremonial kiva of the Anasazi people in New Mexico, visiting the sole surviving corn palace from the Midwest boosters' glory days of a century ago."

""The Story of Corn" is a fascinating read."

." . . a fascinating read. Look for the book and dive in."

"The fascinating story of corn is told in a wonderfully engaging book by Betty Fussell, a food historian."

"Fussell tells a fascinating, thoroughly researched and comprehensive story of the centrality of corn to American culture."

." . . a lively blend of anecdotes and facts about world corn. . .a specialized food history that will appeal across many different lines, from students of anthropology and sociology to culiary enhusiasts and history buffs."

"Fussell has the admirable virtue of integrating her copious research gracefully into the vast narrative that tracks corn through the empire of the Incas to the moderm saga of ethanol fuels, deftly blending anthropology, science and history. . . The carefully selected bibliography is a fine finishing touch to this sophisticated and satisfying "tour de force.""

." . .a most wide-ranging, complex account. . The author delves into corn's long history, from it's origins as a grass to its place in the mythology and economy of aboriginal peoples, and its modern usefulness as scientists probe the limits of its molecules. . . This is a book that needed writing and one that imaginative teachers can fit into a whole range of school subjects."

From the Inside Flap

This interweaving of folklore, history, and science tells the seven-century story of the importance of corn in the Americas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; Reprint edition (December 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826335926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826335920
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A fun, crammed compendium on how this food became ubiquitous--like the apple in our diet. It's forms and functions are seemingly unending. You'll be surprised how much and in what ways you've consumed it. Stock photos, quotes, recipes, postcards: a loving scrapbook and historical tale of corn. If you're a cook, you'll love it. It's like a year of Gourmet magazine with every issue on a different facet of corn. A fun gift to give.
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Format: Paperback
Food historian Betty Fussell's survey of corn history blends folklore, anthropology, botany and social and art history to provide a lively blend of anecdotes and facts about world corn, from its influence on war and ritual uses in the Inca and Aztec worlds to its use as a key ingredient in different cultures' cuisines. The Story Of Corn isn't a cookbook; it's a specialized food history which will appeal across many different lines, from students of anthropology and sociology to culinary enthusiasts and history buffs.
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Format: Paperback
The author is descended from folks who grew corn on the plains, and their story is woven into the start and end of the text. There is a great deal of detail on ritual and traditional uses of corn by Native American peoples, from the Toltecs and Aztecs and Woodland peoples to modern tribes, and especially much on the uses of corn as a food, in fact so much on alternative ways of making some dishes (such as bread-like dishes) in various cultures that many readers would skip over these details. The chapter on the mechanization of corn process also has lots of detail but is hard to follow for those of us who don't know the function of many of the agricultural tools: the author doesn't describe them. Similarly, while the author mentions the six general types of corn (sweet, dent, pop, flour,...), she never explains the differences among them, and there is limited information on corn genetics. The author describes the surprising number of industrial uses for corn in some detail:the book has lots of information on all aspects of corn but some useful details are missing. I was especially interested in the conflicting theories on the ancestry of corn in a section titled The Corn War (at the time of publication, there were theories that teosinte was either not the ancestral grain or not the only one). One error: in the text on Chaco, the author states that Pueblo Bonito housed more than 1000 people; it is now accepted that it housed relatively few. A limitation of this book is that it was published in 1992 and hence has nothing on modern developments related to GMOs. There is an extensive bibliography but few references within the text indicating which sources contain more information on a topic. Of course, a reader can go to the web for a particular topic (such as the types of corn), but it would be useful to have it in the text.
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Format: Paperback
I must admit, I am actually a beet person (well, root vegetables generally) and bought this book to get ammo to goof on my corn enthusiast friends. But how the worm has turned! Corn and human history are inextricably linked, a bonding of nurture and social evolution. This book lays down the facts.

I guess in retrospect my "hubris" about beets was misguided and wrong. I now think the lesson I learned, whether it pertains to vegetables, politics, music or whatever, is that YOU SHOULD NEVER UNDERESTIMATE DIFFERENT OPINIONS. It's too easy to do, and is an easy way to miss out on fundamental truths.

In that sense, this book transcends it's core audience of corn folk (cornies?) and teaches a much deeper lesson if you are not really interested in corn - that well disciplined research into unfamiliar topics can instruct and delight the receptive reader.

Read it, enjoy and reflect.
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By TMc on October 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This tome covers corn "ear" to toe. I love the sassy tone and contrarian viewpoints.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
History, cultivation, and future of corn - a comprehensive guide to a vegetable one either craves or feeds to their herd
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