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4.0 out of 5 stars A lot more than a stick in the mud., 6 May 2012
This review is from: Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent (Paperback)
This is an easy to read, journalistic-style account of the humble potato from its origins in the Andes to its role in modern China and space exploration.

The central narritive is about the domestication, cultivation and dissemination of the potato. At the critical junctions what is, or is not, known about the historical context is outlined in a relevant and interesting way. The author acknowledges that there are many gaps in our knowledge not least why humans made the transition to an agrarian life style or how the initial cultivators succeeded in domesticating a very toxic plant.

He also offers the interesting argument that while the potato has provided sustenance to the poorest of communities, this dependence has been a means of perpetuating their poverty.

All in all this is an enjoyable and informative read. But the book is probably too spud-centric. It has a clear agricultural and rural focus. There is scope for a further volume on how the potato made its way into our cities and the role is plays in industrial and capitalist societies.
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Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent
Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent by John Reader (Paperback - 29 Mar 2011)
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