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Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants Hardcover – June 28, 2011
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“Fascinating. . . . [A] loving tribute to the common weed.” (Associated Press)
“Entertaining. . . . [A] sprightly journey through horticultural history.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Wry and subtle. . . . Mabey argues without scolding, that at a time of great environmental change and uncertainty, weeds may soon be all we’ve got left.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Smart. . . . Mabey is at his best when he takes us along on his own weedy adventures.” (Washington Post)
“Like Michael Pollan in “The Botany of Desire,” Mabey shows that it is not at all clear here who is in charge, who has the moral high ground and who will survive long after the last weed has been pulled from the last over-tended suburban acre.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Excellent. . . . He tracks humanity’s ongoing tussle with weeds, all in prose that delights at every turn.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Elegant and thoughtful. . . . I may not turn the mower aside when I encounter the next thistly, pod-bearing stem. But I will stop, stoop and take a closer look.” (Dallas Morning News)
“A jaunty chronicle of botany and history that ventures from the first farm fields of Mesopotamia to the broken asphalt of our modern cities.” (Charleston Post & Courier)
“A lyrical, wise, witty, intimate musing about garden outcasts—and about us, too.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“As witty and lively as it is comprehensive. . . . A stimulating sojourn with the world’s most fascinating and ingenious plants.” (Portsmouth Herald)
From the Back Cover
The true story—and true glories—of the plants we love to hate
From dandelions to crabgrass, stinging nettles to poison ivy, weeds are familiar, pervasive, widely despised, and seemingly invincible. How did they come to be the villains of the natural world? And why can the same plant be considered beautiful in some places but be deemed a menace in others?
In Weeds, renowned nature writer Richard Mabey embarks on an engaging journey with the verve and historical breadth of Michael Pollan. Weaving together the insights of botanists, gardeners, artists, and writers with his own travels and lifelong fascination, Mabey shows how these "botanical thugs" can destroy ecosystems but also can restore war zones and derelict cities; he reveals how weeds have been portrayed, from the "thorns and thistles" of Genesis to Shakespeare, Walden, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers; and he explains how kudzu overtook the American South, how poppies sprang up in First World War battlefields, and how "American weed" replaced the forests of Vietnam ravaged by Agent Orange.
Hailed as "a profound and sympathetic meditation on weeds in relation to human beings" (Sunday Times), Weeds shows how useful these unloved plants can be, from serving as the first crops and medicines, to bur-dock inspiring the invention of Velcro, to cow parsley becoming the latest fashionable wedding adornment. Mabey argues that we have caused plants to become weeds through our reckless treatment of the earth, and he delivers a provocative defense of the plants we love to hate.
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