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Publisher's Summary

A rich, sweeping, and compelling work of botanical history, The Cabaret of Plants explores dozens of plant species that for millennia have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty, and belief. Going back to the beginnings of human history, Richard Mabey shows how flowers, trees, and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death.
Mabey takes listeners from the Himalayas to Madagascar to the Amazon to our own backyards. He ranges through the work of writers, artists, and scientists and across nearly 40,000 years of human history: Ice Age images of plant life in ancient cave art and the earliest representations of the Garden of Eden; Newton's apple and gravity, Priestley's sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth's daffodils; the history of cultivated plants such as maize, ginseng, and cotton; and the ways the sturdy oak became the symbol of British nationhood and the giant sequoia came to epitomize the spirit of America.
©2015 Richard Mabey (P)2016 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"An unusual and vastly entertaining journey into the world of mysterious plant life as experienced by a gifted nature writer." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By hyacinthgirl on 12-27-16

Can't wait to listen to again!

Since discovering author Richard Mabey's delightful book, "Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants" earlier this year, I was thrilled when this turned up on Audible! I listened to a sample (sometimes the reader turns you off a book---after all, this is someone you're going to have to listen to for HOURS!) I was confident u would enjoy both book and reader. I read a LOT, but I live in NYC and sometimes the trains are crowded and you can't get a seat or I'm stuck in a line at the market---with audiobooks, I at least don't feel like this is time wasted. The book skirts between scientific studies, history, and personal narrative. If you're looking for a dry textbook, this is not for you. But if you appreciate plants and poetry, philosophy, and political science... It's a walk with in the park with a modern-dat Walt Whitman. Highly recommend!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Paula on 11-24-17


The content of this book was fascinating. I listened actively and googled pictures of plants, paintings, and wiki-bios of the people mentioned. I'm not sure the antiquated Queens English narration was necessary, but maybe it helps connect to a Victorian botany theme in the book.

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