Cover image for An empire of plants : people and plants that changed the world
An empire of plants : people and plants that changed the world
Musgrave, Toby.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Cassell, 2000.
Physical Description:
192 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SB71 .M88 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
SB71 .M88 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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For centuries, from foodstuffs and fabrics to medicine and industrial materials, plants have dominated trade between countries. Possession of rare spices, sweets, and narcotics could mean enviable wealth and power. In quest of these desired products and the income they brought, explorers ventured forth, risking death as they traveled unknown seas. Here is the story of seven plants--tobacco, sugar, cotton, tea, poppies, quinine, and rubber--and how Europe's hunger for them led to the Age of Empire...and turned world history upside down. Not only did these crops ensure the commercial success of America and Europe, but they became the catalyst for piracy, smuggling, addiction, and the slave trade--the darker side of the golden profits. With fascinating contemporary illustrations.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the sweeping tradition of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, plant historians Toby and Will Musgrave (The Plant Hunters) present An Empire of Plants: People and Plants That Changed the World. They track human use of seven plants tea, tobacco, sugar, opium, cotton, quinine and rubber across centuries and continents. With brief "profiles" of each plant separated from the main text, sidebars about kinds of tea malaria or historical "Opinions on the Opium Trade," and dozens of illustrations and photos, it's a fun, glossy textbook for adults, rigorous and scholarly while catering to the amateur historian. The Musgraves' depictions of the plants' effects and permutations in industry, slavery, drug use and trade the world over and down the ages are stark and fascinating. ( Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved