The Greeks called it Persia, land of exotic gardens, ornate patterned tiles, and dreamlike settings: a far cry from the image conjured up of present-day Iran. An acclaimed garden expert and author, Hobhouse traces the development of Persia's gardens in terms of an ancient culture and the spirituality that played so large a part in their design and use. Facing the difficulties of an arid land and fierce winds, the garden designers from Cyrus the Great (550 B.C.E.) to the present day have managed to create bits of an earthly paradise, with a sensitivity for architectural unity and personal tranquillity. The descriptions of the plants and the garden designs are meticulous, and the text is quite lyrical, well in keeping with the images in the illustrations. The book is a fine example of a scholar's ability to convey her own enthusiasm and knowledge, extensive research, and illuminating insights. Highly recommended for art, horticultural, and academic collections. The plants and water, brick, and ornament that are basic to the gardens and palaces of Persia are the framework of Porter's work and serve as the themes for three major sections of the book. Lush greenery and intricate fountains create a climate totally unlike the indigenous one, while the brick edifices utilize the native clay to create great heights of elegance. The intricate plasterwork, the marvelously rich tiles, and the endless variations of pattern and color found in the palaces and gardens serve to create a separate world, a statement of personal and aesthetic achievement. The photographs are elegant, but the text, unfortunately, is not. It tends to be turgid and difficult to follow, and one wonders if the translation is at fault or if Porter (Iranian studies, Aix-en-Provence) has lapsed into professorial obfuscation. Not a necessary purchase, but useful for large collections for its excellent illustrations.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.