Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent

Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent

by John Reader
     
 

ISBN-10: 0300171455

ISBN-13: 9780300171457

Pub. Date: 03/29/2011

Publisher: Yale University Press

The potato—humble, lumpy, bland, familiar—is a decidedly unglamorous staple of the dinner table. Or is it? John Reader's narrative on the role of the potato in world history suggests we may be underestimating this remarkable tuber. From domestication in Peru 8,000 years ago to its status today as the world's fourth largest food crop, the potato has played a…  See more details below

Overview

The potato—humble, lumpy, bland, familiar—is a decidedly unglamorous staple of the dinner table. Or is it? John Reader's narrative on the role of the potato in world history suggests we may be underestimating this remarkable tuber. From domestication in Peru 8,000 years ago to its status today as the world's fourth largest food crop, the potato has played a starring—or at least supporting—role in many chapters of human history. In this witty and engaging book, Reader opens our eyes to the power of the potato.

Whether embraced as the solution to hunger or wielded as a weapon of exploitation, blamed for famine and death or recognized for spurring progress, the potato has often changed the course of human events. Reader focuses on sixteenth-century South America, where the indigenous potato enabled Spanish conquerors to feed thousands of conscripted native people; eighteenth-century Europe, where the nutrition-packed potato brought about a population explosion; and today's global world, where the potato is an essential food source but also the world's most chemically-dependent crop. Where potatoes have been adopted as a staple food, social change has always followed. It may be "just" a humble vegetable, John Reader shows, yet the history of the potato has been anything but dull.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300171457
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
03/29/2011
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
999,232
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................ix
Acknowledgements....................xiii
List of Plates....................xv
Part One: SOUTH AMERICA....................1
1. To Mars from the Andes....................3
2. What exactly is a potato?....................21
3. Domestication....................29
4. Whence have they come?....................39
5. A dainty dish....................61
Part Two: EUROPE....................75
6. The lonely impulse of delight....................77
7. The way it was....................93
8. The demoralising esculent....................111
9. Where the praties grow....................131
10. Seeds of famine....................153
11. Woe the sons of Adam!....................169
Part Three: THE WORLD....................189
12. The fatal malady....................191
13. Co-opting science....................213
14. Men on a mission....................231
15. Global voyage....................241
16. Developing worlds....................253
17. For the price of apples....................265
Notes....................279
Bibliography....................293
Index....................307

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