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Eden Hardcover – 5 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (5 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593048830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593048832
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 20 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 477,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Tim Smit, author of Eden, is obsessed with horticulture (no mere "gardening" for him). In restoring the Lost Gardens of Heligan he has become an acolyte of a great, though rarely remembered, philosophy--one that ties our welfare as a species to our relationship with plants.

The Eden Project is, in his own statement: "a vast complex of soap bubble-shaped greenhouses (the largest in the world) which interpret and explain our dependence upon the plant kingdom." Eden the book is his definitive account of the project from its beginnings--an account handsomely and often wittily illustrated (a good gift book). More importantly, it is well written.

Smit is trenchant about his aims: "Why, for God’s sake, put yourself...through years of grief to build a crappy theme park so that some smartass can define it in a sentence?" he asks. By creating something more than a mere "product"--and by doing it in an old clay pit in Cornwall--Smit and his colleagues faced daunting challenges. Larger-than-life characters pepper the book which is more about people than plants.

Well over a million people have already visited the Eden Project. But this book is more than a celebration, more than a memento; it is too honest and exhaustive to be a mere statement of vision. It is, all in all, a rather unlikely bestseller--a contender for best business book of the year. --Simon Ings


With several high-profile public projects going belly up, the opening of the Eden Project in Cornwall in March 2001 had many holding their breath. Would this Living Theatre of Plants and People prove to be another spectacular failure or the astonishing adventure we were promised? The hundreds of thousands of visitors who have voted with their feet by visiting the project since March prove quite categorically that this is a success, and it is salutary how under-reported this success has been compared to better-known failures. But all of that will change with this (and with several other new books and TV programmes) which celebrates an ambitious project. Smit tells the remarkable story of the Eden Project, of its conception and construction, and the many larger-than-life personalities involved. Smit's track record, of course, includes The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the same skills are more than evident here.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Simon R on 10 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
A fascinating account of an ambitious and daring project. Those who have been to Eden will agree that it has achieved so much of what Tim and his colleagues set out to achieve.
The book is, like Eden, so many things. A gripping (true) yarn, an educational piece, something which makes you question society and global issues and finally an insight into one intelligent and individual man crusade to be independant and do something meaningful.
Overall, you finish this book wanting to leave the house and visit Eden right this minute - even if you've just been there. You also want to meet co-founder Tim Smit - who, by the way, desevedly earned a CBE for his genius - and discover what else he has written.
Whilst Tim's cultivated eccenticity and orderly randomness are things which make both the book and the Eden Project so amazing, they also form the book's sole failing. The closely juxtaposed narratives on architecture, social history, ecology, managing people, horticulture, struggle, education and major project building make for a very entertaining read.
However, missing from that list are the legal, financial and political battles which seemed to have been Eden's most formidable and boring enemies - yet they feature very heavily in sections of the book. Sadly they're inevitable from these projects, and waste a lot of public and charitable money, and perhaps these are two reasons why Tim shouldn't have focussed so heavily on them in this otherwise uplifting and fascinating book. I'm sure they'd fit nicer in a separate specialist book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Ward on 10 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
A refreshingly frank and honest account about raising £150m for 'The Worlds Largest Greenhouse'. Not only does it raise your awareness of what regeneration is all about but Eden is also a compelling account of how to never give up on an idea you believe in; throughout the book Smit reminds himself he's going to see the project through to the end; where lesser men would have given up, or succumb to comprimise. This is the stuff of heroes but it aint fiction. Just becuase a company may help fund the project at the beginning doesnt mean they get the contract at the end. You often ask yourself how did he convince so many people whom must have been fairly major players themselves? As the the initial idea does the rounds of commissioners and local government funding you soon get an idea of what raising such a vast amount of money is all about and the fact that the end result is pretty much what Smit originally concieved is just awesome.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Curns VINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
Tim Smit provides an insight into the group vision that resulted in one of the more successful Millennium projects - Eden. And the fact that it is the work of a committed 'group' of people is not lost on the reader. Smit regularly repeats the mantra that Eden was only developed thanks to the work of a wide range of individuals from contractors to councils, and not forgetting the plant-men.
If you want to understand some details behind the way such projects are developed then this is a book you should read. When the project was floundering while all the funding partners came together then Tim Smit was there and he relives it through the book. Sometimes you wonder how it call came together.
On the other hand, if you are a plant-lover, gardener or horticulturalist then this is also a book you should read. Smit tells the fascinating story of the development of the biome concepts and the plants they chose to grow. More importantly he discusses the relationship between man and the natural surroundings we inhabit; debating our fragile relationship with a range of environments along the way.
However, what you take from this book is a mixture of all of the above. Landscaping, plant husbandry and environmental considerations sit alongside planning, funding, road building and visitor education projects. It's one man's personal account rather than a definitive history and the cast of characters seems endless and, sometimes, confusing. However, the determination and vision that drove the project; the commitment and enthusiasm of all the people and the role Eden believes it should be playing on the world stage are all presented in an accessible, very readable account of, what seems to have been, a long but successful process. If this book doesn't inspire you to aim higher and better, then nothing will.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ad Meredith on 2 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a feel-good book, and then some. In fact, by the time I'd finished it I felt so good about Britain and the people that live here I was ready to hug the next man I bumped into on the street. And once I had finished hugging people, I wanted to take on something like Eden.
Smit has done more than provide inspiration, he has set out a detailed blueprint of how you can conceive and execute something as large and complicated as Eden. Yet the beauty of this book is that the blueprint is written in such lyrical, engaging prose that retains a light touch even when Smit is taking us wading through the flooded clay pit that gives birth to these magnificent greenhouses.
When people have good ideas in this country, the first person they tell it to is far too often more likely to cast doubt than enthuse. For that reason Smit's story is all the more remarkable. He devotes no time in the book to doubters (and there must have been quite a few) or anyone that tried to stand in the way of the project. Moreover he is generous in the empathy he offers to those who got cold feet. But the magnificent positive vibe that courses through the chapters is creates by great passages of the book in which he turns the spotlight on the incredible team of supporters that made the Eden project happen. Descriptions of the main characters and their personalities are so rich that you feel you would be more than comfortable launching straight into conversation with them. These are the wonderful people that make you glad to be British, and though self-depricating in relation to his own role, Smit's contribution to inspiring them is written between the lines of every page.
For horticulturists and environmentalists there is plenty of detail to chew on, and the lovers of Cornwall will be in their element.
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