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The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwestby Jack Nisbet
"Combine the sense of nationhood with the European values of scholarship and advanced technology; take into account the European habit of organized aggression; mix in simple cultural differences such as what you eat and how you smell: Little wonder that instead of meeting on equal terms, Europeans so often approached the native population from an assumption of superiority that quickly descended into violence and disdain." Bob Hicks, the Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
Synopses & Reviews
Jack Nisbet first told the story of British explorer David Thompson, who mapped the Columbia River, in his acclaimed book Sources of the River, which set the standard for research and narrative biography for the region.
Now Nisbet turns his attention to David Douglas, the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout other areas of western North America. Douglas's discoveries include hundreds of western plants — most notably the Douglas Fir.
The Collector tracks Douglas's fascinating history, from his humble birth in Scotland in 1799 to his botanical training under the famed William Jackson Hooker, and details his adventures in North America discovering "exotic" new plants for the English and European market. The book takes readers along on Douglas's journeys into a literal "brave new world" of then-obscure realms from Puget Sound to the Sandwich Islands.
In telling Douglas's story, Nisbet evokes a lost world of early exploration, pristine nature, ambition, and cultural and class conflict with surprisingly modern resonances.
"[A]n entertaining portrait of the unfettered determination that drove one of the giants in the field...and infused the young nation he viewed with a keen and zealous spirit." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
From 1823 to 1834, Scottish plant collector and naturalist Douglas explored what is now Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and the impact he had continues to be enormous today. A naturalist based in Spokane, Washington, Nisbet draws on his journal and letters home to trace his itinerary not only in this region but also afterward farther north into the Canadian Rockies and through California and across to Hawaii. Among the perspectives are the rites of Neptune 1824-25, sleeping on shattered stones in the summer of 1826, breathing new climates from 1829 to 1932, and craters in 1834. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Historian and naturalist Jack Nisbet's previous books include Visible Bones: Journeys across Time in the Columbia River Country, The Mapmaker's Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau, Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson across Western North America, and Purple Flat Top: In Search of a Place.
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