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1 Home & Garden Cooking and Food- Historical Food and Cooking

Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent


Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent Cover

ISBN13: 9780300141092
ISBN10: 0300141092
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Only 1 left in stock at $13.95!


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 worlds 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 worlds 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.


Using the potato as guide, mantra, fetish and structuring device, John Reader serves up a potato- centric history of the world. And a delicious, if not always entirely persuasive, dish it is.

The potato as glamour vegetable? Well, no. No one has ever called potatoes "love apples" — those were tomatoes. But in northern Europe in the 16th century, when they were still rare enough... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


"...rarely has this kind of thing been done so well." Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller


"A riveting new history..." Toby Morison, Sunday Telegraph Stella Supplement


"...a fascinating tale. You'll never eat a chip with the same indifference again." Leslie Geddes-Brown, Country Life


"Reader takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey...What we get...is a history of the world from the potato's point of view." Willa Murphy, Irish Times

About the Author

John Reader is a writer and photojournalist who holds an honorary research fellowship in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. He has traveled all over the world and now resides in Surrey, UK.

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Chris Radcliffe, May 27, 2009 (view all comments by Chris Radcliffe)
For a lover of non fiction it doesn't get much better than this. Given the humble nature of the subject matter I was surprised by the depth of the research presented and the illuminating detail of the narrative. Anyone who reads history will appreciate how the author has linked together our mostly forgotten agricultural past to the rise of world wide market economies. I think I'll go bake a potato right now.
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Product Details

A History of the Propitious Esculent
Reader, John
Yale University Press
Social history
World - General
General science
Potatoes -- History.
History : World - General
Gardening : Vegetables
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
17 b/w illus.
9 x 5.94 in 1.05 lb

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking
History and Social Science » World History » General
Home and Garden » Gardening » Vegetable
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General

Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300141092 Reviews:
"Review" by , "...rarely has this kind of thing been done so well."
"Review" by , "A riveting new history..."
"Review" by , "...a fascinating tale. You'll never eat a chip with the same indifference again."
"Review" by , "Reader takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey...What we get...is a history of the world from the potato's point of view."
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