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Plants, Wealth and History
on 23 October 2004
This fascinating book looks at the causative role of plants in history. The cultivation of and trade in these plants created enormous wealth and changed the history of the world in many ways.
The chapter on timber is titled The Essential Carpet. In it, Hobhouse discusses how the shortage of timber in the United Kingdom led to the use of coal, which led to scientific advances and ultimately to the industrial revolution. On the other hand, the abundance of timber in the USA spurred the westward march of the country during the 1800s.
In The Grape's Bid For Immortality, the author discusses the growing of vines and making of wine from 600BC to the present. Wine has an enormous potential for the creation of wealth, multiplying nett profits wherever it is successful.
In the chapter Wheels Shod For Speed, he tells the story of rubber and how it changed the economies of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and indeed the world. More Than A Smoke is a fascinating account of how the colony and ultimately state of Virginia owes it wealth to tobacco. Initially this area had a monopoly on tobacco by decree of the king of England. This industry created a landlord class, which amongst them counted certain signatories of the Declaration of Independence, like Washington and Jefferson.
The book is full of fascinating facts and observations, for example that the original alkaline tobacco might not be harmful and that the acidity of modern cigarettes might be the root cause of the harmful effects of smoking on health.
Seeds Of Wealth is a truly engrossing book as it deals with politics, economics, global history and more particularly Anglo-American relations, and the role of nature in creating wealth and economic growth. The text contains black and white illustrations and the book concludes with a bibliography and an index.