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Plants: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 26 Apr 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199584060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199584062
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.3 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Timothy Walker has degrees in both botany and horticulture, and has been director of the Botanic Garden in Oxford for 23 years.


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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book fails not in content but in the presentation and style it is written in. What I think makes most of the VSI books great is that it is easy for a layman in the field to pick them up and get a good broad understanding of the subject area and have an enjoyable read.

Where this book goes wrong is:
- Over use of explanations or latin names in parenthesis. There is barely a sentence in this book that doesn't have detail text in parenthesis some sentences barely get a single word between a closing and opening parenthesis. The information in these does little for non-experts in the fields and actually detracts from the information.
- Too much jargon. I know that botanists have their special jargon like every field but there is a balancing point in how much of this can be presented in an introductory text. Especially where small nuances in latin pre or suffixes are sometimes the only thing that differentiates a substantially different family of plants.
- The book goes into way too much detail explaining details about a particular type of plants (e.g. the algae) without little context or comparison with the rest. Basically there are too many enumeration of attributes and characteristics that are really not that interesting in the broader picture
- The author fails in addressing and explaining the truly interesting facts that he puts forward. As an example I found it fascinating that brown algae is not a plant but an animal. But the author never explains this beyond stating it as a fact. Why? I have to look elsewhere to answer this question

I think the biggest flaw in this book is that it lacks a central storyline from start to finish. In an introduction such as this the reader needs to be taken on a guided tour of the subject area.

Sadly I cannot recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Don't be mislead by the title of this book 'Plants: A Very Short Introduction' is not short on detail. When Timothy Walker says that Charles Darwin's `Origin of the Species' should be compulsory reading for all first year biology students I would add this book to that list too. In fact anyone from A-Level upwards with an interest in Biology. The book may be a short introduction but it contains everything the keen student needs to learn. It is written in an easy to read humorous style e.g. "Botanically speaking a tree is just a plant with a stick up the middle". All good solid text book information put across in an engaging style and with an excellent chapter on plant conservation. Well done Mr Walker!
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Format: Paperback
Plants are, quite literary, everywhere. From the human perspective they are certainly the most recognizable and ubiquitous life form, and they have had an outsize impact on the Earth's environment and natural history. Plants are essential for our nutrition, and the history of civilization can on one level be understood in terms of our increasing ability to cultivate and harness the plant-based biomass for our survival needs. Plants have also had, and continue to have, a very important role in medicine. This book looks at those aspects of plants, but even more importantly it tries to instill the appreciation for these incredible organisms in their own right.

This book covers some of the most important aspects of the plant biology - the nature and the structure of the plant cell, the evolution of the plant life, and the spread and adaptation of plants to various climates and environments. The most fascinating part of the book is the one that tries to explain the invasion of the land by plants. This is probably one of the most significant events in the natural history, and without it no other kind of land life would have been possible, and you and I would probably not be reading this book. It is quite incredible how many technical problems needed to be resolved for the plants to leave the aquatic environment and successfully adopt themselves for the life on the land. Many of these adaptations we take for granted, if we even think about them (such as the ability of plants to accumulate and store large quantities of water and prevent their desiccation.) This book does a marvelous job of describing these adaptations and putting them within the context of plant biology in general.
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