Books : reviews

Thor Hanson.
The Triumph of Seeds: how grains, nuts, kernels, pulses, and pips conquered the plant kingdom and shaped human history.
Basic Books. 2015

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, so did coffee beans fuel the Enlightenment, and cottonseed spark the Industrial Revolution. Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonder, and simple fascination. 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. The Triumph of Seeds is a book of knowledge and adventure, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside storyteller 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.