3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fun, but frustrating in places,
This review is from: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World (Paperback)
The stories in this book are well told, and if you're new to the topic it's unlikely you'll be bored. Pollan brings the characters to life, especially Johnny Appleseed.
The book is a study of the co-evolution of humans and plants, covering, in depth, the apple, the potato, the tulip, and cannabis. Its central thesis is that plants have used humans just as much as humans have used plants. This is where the frustration comes in, for it is simply not the case that plants have beliefs, desires or intentions. Pollan does mention this, usually with phrases beginning something like "technically speaking.....", but he insists on using the language of plants doing things throughout the book. In a book of popular science one does not expect philosophical rigour and precision. The problem is, once we've rid ourselves of all the metaphorical language in use, how much of the thesis will remain? I suspect not much.
As history the book is worthwhile, just treat the conclusions with a pinch of salt.