The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

by Thor Hanson

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Overview

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson

"The genius of Hanson's fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves." —Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review

We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life: supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and pepper drove the Age of Discovery, coffee beans fueled the Enlightenment and cottonseed sparked the Industrial Revolution. Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonders, and simple fascinations. Yet, despite their importance, seeds are often seen as commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more. This is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A fascinating scientific adventure, it is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465055999
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/24/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,025,057
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim Fellow, Switzer Environmental Fellow, and winner of the John Burrough Medal for excellence in nature writing and natural history. The author of Feathers and The Impenetrable Forest, Hanson lives with his wife and son on an island in Washington State.

Table of Contents

Authors Note ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface: "Heed!" xiii

Introduction: The Fierce Energy xix

Seeds Nourish

Chapter 1 Seed for a Day 3

Chapter 2 The Staff of Life 19

Chapter 3 Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut 39

Seeds Unite

Chapter 4 What the Spike Moss Knows 55

Chapter 5 Mendel's Spores 70

Seeds Endure

Chapter 6 Methuselah 83

Chapter 7 Take It to the Bank 96

Seeds Defend

Chapter 8 By Tooth, Beak, and Gnaw 113

Chapter 9 The Riches of Taste 128

Chapter 10 The Cheeriest Beans 143

Chapter 11 Death by Umbrella 161

Seeds Travel

Chapter 12 Irresistible Flesh 179

Chapter 13 By Wind and Wave 193

Conclusion: The Future of Seeds 211

Appendix A Common and Scientific Names 217

Appendix B Seed Conservation 223

Notes 225

Glossary 245

Bibliography 251

Index 267

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