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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing
I can't quite believe the other reviews. This book is a joy to handle and to read. Its so clearly a work of passion on a subject we would never know about if it wasn't for the enthusiasm and rigour of its author. Its not meant to have mass market appeal (maybe the glowing reviews didn't help it here) - but for the amateur gardener with an interest in history its a book...
Published on 16 Jun. 2009 by Rebus

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book was not short enough
I am a keen gardener and the gardening books that stack my shelves go all the way back to the original Mr. Middleton. This book was a bit of a bore and while I only paid $5 for the paperback and got it to read over dinner, it turned out to be too tedious to finish. The plates don't add much, and while they may be good in the hardback, I don't think I will bother looking...
Published on 18 May 2011 by Peter Lynch


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 16 Jun. 2009
By 
This review is from: The Tulip (Paperback)
I can't quite believe the other reviews. This book is a joy to handle and to read. Its so clearly a work of passion on a subject we would never know about if it wasn't for the enthusiasm and rigour of its author. Its not meant to have mass market appeal (maybe the glowing reviews didn't help it here) - but for the amateur gardener with an interest in history its a book to treasure
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book was not short enough, 18 May 2011
By 
Peter Lynch (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Tulip (Paperback)
I am a keen gardener and the gardening books that stack my shelves go all the way back to the original Mr. Middleton. This book was a bit of a bore and while I only paid $5 for the paperback and got it to read over dinner, it turned out to be too tedious to finish. The plates don't add much, and while they may be good in the hardback, I don't think I will bother looking for it just for the pictures.

I am sorry as I would want to support any gardener and friend of Christo, but this book is acceptable if you get it as a gift, otherwise there must be many more books better on tulips, better on history of horticulture, and better on the madness of crowds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better editing would have given us a really good book, 14 Jun. 2012
By 
Peasant (Deepest England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
Is this meant to be an academic monograph on the genus Tulip, or a popular book for tulip-lovers? The author clearly has a passion and this is no doubt a book in which she has indulged her enthusiasm. It is presented as a book for the general gardener, and indeed it lacks the botanical frills a monograph would require. Unfortunately, a self-indulgent attitude to editing has left us with a book which it is a labour, rather than a treat, to read.

The introduction is excellent. But from there on the text just expands. The story of the origins of the tulip in the Near East, its arrival in Europe, its mad role in the speculative 'tulip fever' of seventeenth century Holland, and the subsequent developments of nurserymen, the rise of florist's societies and the technical details of modern breeding in the tulip industry, with its enhanced knowledge of genetics, are all fascinating - but told at too much length, with too much detail and in a style which, after a while, exhausts the reader.

Symptomatic of what is wrong with the author's understanding of her audience, is the fact that long extracts are in French. Without translation. Surely the days are long, long gone when an author can assume that her audience are all cheerfully Francophone??? I was forced to learn French at school, but even for my generation it wasn't universal, and even if I'd been good at it (which I wasn't), I'd still struggle with sixteenth and seventeenth century horticultural French involving technical terms which don't appear in my modest dictionary. The odd Latin tag, and the failure to translate the Latin titles of early books, smack of the same misplaced intellectual snobbery. When academic books on obscure French philosphers translate their quotes, there is no excuse for Pavord.

There are a large number of illustrations on, in the hardback at least, a delightful creamy vellum-like paper. Yet these too disappoint. Some are of excellent quality - others are reproduced, not from the originals, but from other reproductions, so that copper engravings which should have been as crisp as a new pin are blown up to show the fuzzy dots of previous photolithography. Several of the colour reproductions suffer the same fate.

The last section of the book - a full 136 pages - is a sort of catalogue. Pavord lists tulip species and then, after a section explaining the 'divisions' which breeders use to classify tulip varieties, there follows a lengthy alphabetical list of varieties with their descriptions. I found this a very curious attempt. Many, many books list tulip species and varieties, with excellent photographs. Here there are only scattered reproductions of historical illustrations. If the list selected especially fine varieties, or those of historical interest which are still available, I could understabd it. But this just seems to be a paraphrase of a bulb catalogue. Some of the varieties are vinatge; a lot date from the 1980s, which is hardly long enough ago to justify special mention on those grounds, and recent enough to wonder if there are none from the nineties only because Pavord hadn't seen them (the book was first published in 1999).

This could have been a very good book, with tighter editing and a less self-indulgent approach. What a shame. I am so glad that Melissa, who wanted to get a tulip tattoo, was happy with it.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice plates, shame about the text, 11 Jan. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
One of the most beautiful books I have ever handled. Gorgeous illustrations, carefully - even lovingly - chosen. But the accompanying text was repetitive, self-indulgent and dull, dull, dull. Deserves to be a coffee table book.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong on horticulture - weak on history, 10 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
As both a keen gardener and an historian, I found this both a fascinating and an infuriating book. There is no doubt that Anna Pavord is an authority on the botany and the history of the tulip, and she has done a magnificent job in researching the whole story of the flower, bringing in information from a wide variety of sources.
But when Pavord strays outside the realms of horticultural history she displays an alarming lack of knowledge. It is, for example, woefully simplistic to state that Sultan Ahmed III forfeited his throne through his love of tulips; many political factors were far more important. Pavord misdates the vital first encounter with the flower by Ambassador Busbecq (which we're led to believ was one of the most important incidents in the whole history of the tulip) by four years. And she makes only the most cursory attempt to sketch in the historical background, whether it be in the Ottoman Empire, the United Provinces or England. In summary, this is a fine book for garden lovers, but one serious historians will find jejeune.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaden product of obsession, 30 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tulip (Paperback)
...to readsome of the early reviews you'd have thought the author had writtenthe Bible, not this leadenly-paced and excessively-detailed tombstone, which nine times out of ten fails to do true justice to the most wonderful of flowers. Pavord needs to realise that the first rule of writing this sort of history is to tell a story - not to regurgitate everything you've ever learned about the subject. It is this lack of discrimination that turns what should have been a fascinating book into a trudge. The story only really comes alive with its discussion of the famous Dutch tulip mania, and even here the author fails to ask and answer the most obvious of questions - why did the mania develop as it did? Yes, there is plenty of interesting information here and yes, Anna Pavord has made it accessible to everyone by writing this book, but what a joy it could and should have been to read. And where the sumptuous - if over-priced - hardcover does offer a dazzling array of contemporary illustrations, the paperback loses out because it comes with only a few skimpy photo sections.
I'm sorry to sound so jaundiced. If I'd discovered this book for myself I'd probably have found it mildly interesting and written at least a lukewarm review. But the hype that has surrounded The Tulip from the moment of publication baffles and irritates me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In bad need of pruning, 15 Sept. 2008
By 
oldhasbeen (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
There's some interesting stuff in here, but for the non-gardener, it's far too long, very repetitive and concentrates far too much on arcane details. It screams out for a tough editor to give it a brutal pruning, as the author is clearly obsessed with her subject and isn't capable of giving the book the right focus for a general reader.
Some of the history is good, particuarly the section on the tulip in the Ottoman empire, thre's some mildly interesting wrting on flowers in painting and, of course, some beautiful illustrations, but overall, very disappointing, particularly after reading the glowing reviews on the book's cover.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 26 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
After all the hype I was really disappointed with this book. Pavord is obsessed with the tulip - not necessarily a bad thing, you might think, but it is when it means there is no focus whatsoever on the human side of the tulip's story. You'd have to be a gardening fanatic to get much out of this book. If you're interested in history and people, one of the other titles on the subject is likely to be a better bet.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going, 11 Jun. 2011
By 
This review is from: The Tulip (Hardcover)
Undoubtedly scholarly, but not a book for the general reader. Unfortunately, Anna Pavord's writing style is dry and repetitive and deadened my interest in the subject. Lovely illustrations, though. I was disappointed as I thought it would be livelier and more accessible, given its best-seller status. Guess many copies have been bought for gifts and never read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Tulip, 11 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Tulip (Paperback)
Anna is at her best when digging for the history on flora and people.Another great repository of knowledge on this most under valued of flowers.It reads as a set of thoroughly reseached essays - the occasional duplication of information is helpful to anchor keys points .I am a newly converted fan of the flower- wonderful !!!
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The Tulip
The Tulip by Anna Pavord (Paperback - 17 April 2000)
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