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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of science that's fun and accurate
This book allowed me to look through Enlightenment eyes and see my two heroes as real people. It wasn't Linnaeus or Banks who eroticised botany as much as a prurient public and media who couldn't receive this system of classification (based on the sexual parts of plants) without endless tittering. If you seek a broader understanding of the period during which these men...
Published on 14 Jan. 2005 by Gwen Morris

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3.0 out of 5 stars '18th Century Botany saturated with sexual references'
I delved into this little book after reading 'The Signature of All Things' I was curious to learn more about the Botanist you sailed with Cook and how he built up his already rich empire and how full of his self importance he was. It was a time when British men felt themselves far more superior than the natives they encountered. I wasn't quite sure where the Swedish...
Published 4 months ago by English Rose


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3.0 out of 5 stars '18th Century Botany saturated with sexual references', 17 Sept. 2014
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English Rose "Su" (Hereford, West Midlands UK) - See all my reviews
I delved into this little book after reading 'The Signature of All Things' I was curious to learn more about the Botanist you sailed with Cook and how he built up his already rich empire and how full of his self importance he was. It was a time when British men felt themselves far more superior than the natives they encountered. I wasn't quite sure where the Swedish Pastor Carl Linnaeus was to fit into this story?

The author states 'Banks is a botanical libertine whose excessive desire for women has been replaced by an obsessive preoccupation with plants'. Joseph was a supporter of the works of Carl Linnaeus particularly the classification of flowers by counting the number of female and male reproductive organs inside them. According to this little book in the 18th Century '...the scientific language of botany was saturated with sexual references', which the author fills us in with.

It's said that Joseph Banks is not as famous here in the UK as he seems to have been in Australia even though it was Banks who pushed for the convicts in the overfilled prisons to be sent to Australia for their penance (Oh dear now there is another story to research into).

The book on amazon had very mixed reviews and I am not entirely sure how I actually feel after reading it. I did learn from it though that thanks to Joseph Banks Kew Gardens ended up with a whole load of new plant species to study, plus Linnaeus's system has been in use now for over 200 years. Now that cannot have been a bad thing can it?
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of science that's fun and accurate, 14 Jan. 2005
By 
Gwen Morris (Hathersage, England) - See all my reviews
This book allowed me to look through Enlightenment eyes and see my two heroes as real people. It wasn't Linnaeus or Banks who eroticised botany as much as a prurient public and media who couldn't receive this system of classification (based on the sexual parts of plants) without endless tittering. If you seek a broader understanding of the period during which these men lived and worked, this short and easy to read book gives a surprisingly detailed account of what motivated Banks (far more than Linneaus who receives short shift) and his place in the Enlightenment and Empire as well as his posthumous status. Fara dissects the book's 14 plates to reveal much about the times, the artists and the sitters. My only complaints are that the book is very short on botany and Linnaeus wasn't given enough space. It's a fun and fascinating read and compliments the more
standard works on the same subject.
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3.0 out of 5 stars a so so read, 8 Jan. 2014
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Not really as engaging as the period and title suggest. It does capture interest however and I managed to read it thorough to the end.
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a sad blot on the face of science writing, 27 Sept. 2004
I was extremelly dissapointed from the moment I started this book to the moment I finished. Dissapointed that I spent so much money on a book that I took to be informative and interesting, but turned out to be anything but. Dissapointed that it paid such little respect for the lives and work of such great scientists Banks and Linnaeus. And most of all dissapointed for other people reading the book and receiving such a biased and false impression of the history and quality of the study of biology. The subject of sex was pounced upon and sensationalised in a way which indicated the authors own obsession with the subject. It was implied that the basis of taxonomy is flawed and 'dirty' as it relies on the anatomy of plant sexual structures, illuminating the vaste ignorance of the author towards the fundamental fields of biology and taxonomy. This book left me feeling sad at the evident desperation in resorting to sensational 'tabloidism' when trying to sell a book that could never be sold on its historical, scientific or informative value.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Little known detail, 17 Jun. 2013
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M. Boyd "landgirl" (North Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have not read it all yet but found it a rather strange book so far. But others may not agree.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Dec. 2014
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very good
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Sex, Botany and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks (Revolutions in Science)
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