Synopses & Reviews
For centuries herbs and spices have been an integral part of many of the worldandrsquo;s great cuisines. But spices have a history of doing much more than adding life to bland foods. They have been the inspiration for, among other things, trade, exploration, and poetry. Priests employed them in worship, incantations, and rituals, and shamans used them as charms to ward off evil spirits. Nations fought over access to and monopoly of certain spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, when they were rare commodities. Not only were many menandrsquo;s fortunes made in the pursuit of spices, spices at many periods throughout history literally served as currency.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;In Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World, Ben-Erik van Wyk offers the first fully illustrated, scientific guide to nearly all commercial herbs and spices in existence. Van Wyk covers more than 150 speciesandmdash;from black pepper and blackcurrant to white mustard and white gingerandmdash;detailing the propagation, cultivation, and culinary uses of each. Introductory chapters capture the essence of culinary traditions, traditional herb and spice mixtures, preservation, presentation, and the chemistry of flavors, and individual entries include the chemical compounds and structures responsible for each spice or herbandrsquo;s characteristic flavor. Many of the herbs and spices van Wyk covers are familiar fixtures in our own spice racks, but a fewandmdash;especially those from Africa and Chinaandmdash;will be introduced for the first time to American audiences. Van Wyk also offers a global view of the most famous use or signature dish for each herb or spice, satisfying the gourmandandrsquo;s curiosity for more information about new dishes from little-known culinary traditions. and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;People all over the world are becoming more sophisticated and demanding about what they eat and how it is prepared. Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World will appeal to those inquisitive foodies in addition to gardeners and botanists.
For millennia humans have been inspired and motivated by visions of paradise. In the Hindu tradition, Mount Meru is topped by the paradise of Brahma. For the Inuit of the Arctic lands, paradise is a world in which seal meat is plenty and the sky is rich with berries. For others, paradise may be crystalline Caribbean waters and white sands as far as the eye can see. The notion of paradise is ubiquitous, and the worlds literature provides a bounty of lore about a heaven on Earth, where the weather is mild, wine and sex are readily available, and everyone enjoys eternal youth.
In Maps of Paradise, cultural historian Alessandro Scafi takes readers on a lush visual tour of these blissful places, charting how mapmakers have drawn from these tales to depict paradise in maps. Scafi guides readers from late antiquity to the present, describing each societys vision of paradise and revealing how each struggled to translate these visions into map form. He pays particular attention to maps from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, a period that witnessed a remarkable evolution of paradise from a remote place impossible to detect with any precision, to a locale that could be depicted in recognizable maps. In addition, Scafi traces the changing perception of paradise over time, drawing heavily on historical debates about faith versus reason and theology versus philosophy, and demonstrates how these impacted the choices mapmakers made when constructing their maps.
With this gorgeously illustrated book, Scafi offers readers a rare glimpse of paradise as envisioned throughout our past—and perhaps, if were lucky, as a window into the future.
Where is paradise? It always seems to be elsewhere
, inaccessible, outside of time. Either it existed yesterday or it will return tomorrow; it may be just around the corner, on a remote island, beyond the sea. Across a wide range of cultures, paradise is located in the distant past, in a longed-for future, in remote places or within each of us. In particular, people everywhere in the world share some kind of nostalgia for an innocence experienced at the beginning of history. For two millennia, learned Christians have wondered where on earth the primal paradise could have been located. Where was the idyllic Garden of Eden that is described in the Bible? In the Far East? In equatorial Africa? In Mesopotamia? Under the sea? Where were Adam and Eve created in their unspoiled perfection?
Maps of Paradise charts the diverse ways in which scholars and mapmakers from the eighth to the twenty-first century rose to the challenge of identifying the location of paradise on a map, despite the certain knowledge that it was beyond human reach. Over one hundred illustrations celebrate this history of a paradox: the mapping of the unmappable. It is also a mirror to the universal dream of perfection and happiness, and the yearning to discover heaven on earth.
Every flu season, sneezing, coughing, and graphic throat-clearing become the day-to-day background noise in every workplace. And coworkers tend to move as farandmdash;and as quicklyandmdash;away from the source of these bodily eruptions as possible. Instinctively, humans recoil from objects that they view as dirty and even struggle to overcome feelings of discomfort once the offending item has been cleaned. These reactions are universal, and although there are cultural and individual variations, by and large we are all disgusted by the same things.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; In Donandrsquo;t Look, Donandrsquo;t Touch, Donandrsquo;t Eat, Valerie Curtis builds a strong case for disgust as a andldquo;shadow emotionandrdquo;andmdash;less familiar than love or sadness, it nevertheless affects our day-to-day lives. In disgust, biological and sociocultural factors meet in dynamic ways to shape human and animal behavior. Curtis traces the evolutionary role of disgust in disease prevention and hygiene, but also shows that it is much more than a biological mechanism. Human social norms, from good manners to moral behavior, are deeply rooted in our sense of disgust. The disgust reaction informs both our political opinions and our darkest tendencies, such as misogyny and racism. Through a deeper understanding of disgust, Curtis argues, we can take this ubiquitous human emotion and direct it towards useful ends, from combating prejudice to reducing disease in the poorest parts of the world by raising standards of hygiene.and#160; and#160; and#160; and#160; and#160; and#160;and#160;Donandrsquo;t Look, Donandrsquo;t Touch, Donandrsquo;t Eat reveals disgust to be a vital part of what it means to be human and explores how this deep-seated response can be harnessed to improve the world.and#160;and#160;
Everything that lives will die. Thatandrsquo;s the fundamental fact of life. But not everyone dies at the same age: people vary wildly in their patterns of aging and their life spansandmdash;and that variation is nothing compared to whatandrsquo;s found in other animal and plant species. A giant fungus found in Michigan has been alive since the Ice Age, while a dragonfly lives but four months, a mayfly half an hour. What accounts for these variationsandmdash;and what can we learn from them that might help us understand, or better manage, our own aging?
With The Long and the Short of It, biologist and writer Jonathan Silvertown offers readers a witty and fascinating tour through the scientific study of longevity and aging. Dividing his daunting subject by themeandmdash;death, life span, aging, heredity, evolution, and moreandmdash;Silvertown draws on the latest scientific developments to paint a picture of what we know about how life span, senescence, and death vary within and across species. At every turn, he addresses fascinating questions that have far-reaching implications: What causes aging, and what determines the length of an individual life? What changes have caused the average human life span to increase so dramaticallyandmdash;fifteen minutes per hourandmdash;in the past two centuries? If evolution favors those who leave the most descendants, why havenandrsquo;t we evolved to be immortal? The answers to these puzzles and more emerge from close examination of the whole natural history of life span and aging, from fruit flies, nematodes, redwoods, and much more.and#160;The Long and the Short of It pairs a perpetually fascinating topic with a wholly engaging writer, and the result is a supremely accessible book that will reward curious readers of all ages.
Smart phones and GPS give us many possible routes to navigate our daily commute, warn us of traffic and delays, and tell us where to find a cup of coffee. But what if there were sea serpents and giant man-eating lobsters waiting just off course if we were to lose our way? Would there be an app for that? In the sixteenth century, these and other monsters were thought to swim the northern waters, threatening seafarers who ventured too far from shore. Thankfully, Scandinavian mariners had Olaus Magnus, who in 1539 charted these fantastic marine animals in his influential map of the Nordic countries, the Carta Marina
. In Sea Monsters
, well-known expert on magical beasts Joseph Nigg brings readers face-to-face with these creatures, alongside the other magnificent components of Magnusandrsquo;s map.
Nearly two meters wide in total, the mapandrsquo;s nine wood-block panels comprise the largest and first realistic portrayal of Northern Europe. But in addition to these important geographic elements, Magnusandrsquo;s map goes beyond cartography to scenes both domestic and mystic. Close to shore, Magnus shows humans interacting with common sea lifeandmdash;boats struggling to stay afloat, merchants trading, children swimming, and fisherman pulling lines. But from the offshore deeps rise some of the most magical and terrifying sea creatures imaginable at the time or thereafterandmdash;like sea swine, whales as large as islands, and the Kraken. In this book, Nigg provides a thorough tour of the mapandrsquo;s cartographic details, as well as a colorful look at its unusual pictorial and imaginative elements. He draws on Magnusandrsquo;s own text to further describe and illuminate the inventive scenes and to flesh out the stories of the monsters.
Sea Monsters is a stunning tour of a world that still holds many secrets for us land dwellers, who will forever be fascinated by reports of giant squid and the real-life creatures of the deep that have proven to be as bizarre and otherworldly as we have imagined for centuries. It is a gorgeous guide for enthusiasts of maps, monsters, and the mythic.
The environmental movement is plagued by pessimism. And thats not unreasonable: with so many complicated, seemingly intractable problems facing the planet, coupled with a need to convince people of the dangers we face, its hard not to focus on the negative
But that paints an unbalanced—and overly disheartening—picture of whats going on with environmental stewardship today. There are success stories, and Our Once and Future Planet delivers a fascinating account of one of the most impressive areas of current environmental experimentation and innovation: ecological restoration. Veteran investigative reporter Paddy Woodworth has spent years traveling the globe and talking with people—scientists, politicians, and ordinary citizens—who are working on the front lines of the battle against environmental degradation. At sites ranging from Mexico to New Zealand and Chicago to Cape Town, Woodworth shows us the striking successes (and a few humbling failures) of groups that are attempting to use cutting-edge science to restore blighted, polluted, and otherwise troubled landscapes to states of ecological health—and, in some of the most controversial cases, to particular moments in historical time, before widespread human intervention. His firsthand field reports and interviews with participants reveal the promise, power, and limitations of restoration.
Ecological restoration alone wont solve the myriad problems facing our environment. But Our Once and Future Planet demonstrates the role it can play, and the hope, inspiration, and new knowledge that can come from saving even one small patch of earth.
Gardening can be frustratingly shrouded in secrecy. Fickle plants make seemingly spontaneous decisions to bloom or bust, seeds sprout magically in the blink of an eye, and deep-rooted mysteries unfold underground and out of sight. Understanding basic botany is like unlocking a horticultural code; fortunately learning a little science can reveal the secrets of the botanical universe and shed some light on whatand#8217;s really going on in your garden.
Practical Botany for Gardeners provides an elegant and accessible introduction to the world of botany. It presents the essentials that every gardener needs to know, connecting explanations of scientific facts with useful gardening tips. Flip to the roots section and youand#8217;ll not only learn how different types of roots support a plant but also find that adding fungi to soil aids growth. The pruning section both defines and#8220;lateral budsand#8221; and explains how far back on a shoot to cut in order to propagate them.
The book breaks down key areas and terminology with easy-to-navigate chapters arranged by theme, such as plant types, plant parts, inner workings, and external factors. and#8220;Great Botanistsand#8221; and and#8220;Botany in Actionand#8221; boxes delve deeper into the fascinating byways of plant science. This multifaceted book also includes two hundred botanical illustrations and basic diagrams that hearken to the classic roots of botany.
Part handbook, part reference, Practical Botany for Gardeners is a beautifully captivating read. Itand#8217;s a must for garden lovers and backyard botanists who want to grow and nurture their own plant knowledge.
From geraniums to begonias, the common plants that often adorn backyard gardens are rarely native to our region. The same goes for many of the diverse and delicious fruits and vegetables that grace our dinner tables. We take their accessibility and ubiquity for granted, unaware of the great debt we owe to the naturalists and explorers who traveled around the world in search of these then unusual plants and brought back samples and seedsand#8212;along with fantastic stories. In The Plant Hunters
, Carolyn Fry pays homage to those whose obsession with plants gave rise to our own passion for botanicals and gardening.
Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred images from the archives at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, The Plant Hunters offers an accessible history of plant exploration and discovery through short, informative entries. From the naturalists of Alexander the Greatand#8217;s entourage to pioneering botanists such as Joseph Hooker, Joseph Banks, and Alexander von Humboldt, Fryand#8217;s history covers the globe in its celebration of our fascination with plants. She shows how coconut trees and numerous fruits and vegetables were spread from one country to many, and the significant role that newly discovered plants, including tulips, tea, and rubber, have played in economic history. The Plant Hunters also traces the establishment of botanical gardens and the many uses of plants in medicine. In addition to stunning botanical drawings, the book features several unique facsimiles, including a letter from Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy; extracts from Joseph Hookerand#8217;s notebooks; an extract from the orchid sketchbook of John Day; and an original map of Kew Gardens made in 1740 by Jean Rocque.
This gorgeous and entertaining history will be a perfect gift for gardeners, and anyone fascinated by the intersection of the histories of science and discovery.
The intimate relations between sharks and people are captured in the amazing pages of Sharks and People
, and at the hand of Thomas Peschak. Trained initially as a marine biologist, who worked on shark conservation, he then became a conservation photographer, and is now a contributing photographer to National Geographic. This book is organized into sections that outline our primary encounters with sharks, which are then brought to life in stunning photography. The author explores our fear, our deep history with sharks, but perhaps more importantly, the trends in shark conservationandmdash;the establishment of sanctuaries and the ongoing import of shark tourism.
At once feared and revered, sharks have captivated people since our earliest human encounters. Children and adults alike stand awed before aquarium shark tanks, fascinated by the giant teeth and unnerving eyes. And no swim in the ocean is undertaken without a slight shiver of anxiety about the very realandmdash;and very cinematicandmdash;dangers of shark bites. But our interactions with sharks are not entirely one-sided: the threats we pose to sharks through fisheries, organized hunts, and gill nets on coastlines are more deadly and far-reaching than any bite. In Sharks and People
acclaimed wildlife photographer Thomas Peschak presents stunning photographs that capture the relationship between people and sharks around the globe.
A contributing photographer to National Geographic, Peschak is best known for his unusual photographs of sharksandmdash;his iconic image of a great white shark following a researcher in a small yellow kayak is one of the most recognizable shark photographs in the world. The other images gathered here are no less riveting, bringing us as close as possible to sharks in the wild. Alongside the photographs, Sharks and People tells the compelling story of the natural history of sharks. Sharks have roamed the oceans for more than four hundred million years, and in this time they have never stopped adapting to the ever-changing worldandmdash;their unique cartilage skeletons and array of super-senses mark them as one of the most evolved groups of animals. Scientists have recently discovered that sharks play an important role in balancing the ocean, including maintaining the health of coral reefs. Yet, tens of millions of sharks are killed every year just to fill the demand for shark fin soup alone. Today more than sixty species of sharks, including hammerhead, mako, and oceanic white-tip sharks, are listed as vulnerable or in danger of extinction.
The need to understand the significant part sharks play in the oceanic ecosystem has never been so urgent, and Peschakandrsquo;s photographs bear witness to the thrilling strength and unique attraction of sharks. They are certain to enthrall and inspire.and#160;
By 2050, the world population is expected to reach nine billion. And the challenge of feeding this rapidly growing population is being made greater by climate change, which will increasingly wreak havoc on the way we produce our food. At the same time, we have lost touch with the soil—few of us know where our food comes from, let alone how to grow it—and we are at the mercy of multinational corporations who control the crops and give little thought to the damage their methods are inflicting on the planet. Our very future is at risk. In Consumed
, Sarah Elton walks fields and farms on three continents, not only investigating the very real threats to our food, but also telling the little-known stories of the people who are working against time to create a new and hopeful future. From the mountains of southern France to the highlands of China, from the crowded streets of Nairobi to the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, we meet people from all walks of life who are putting together an alternative to the omnipresent industrial food system. In the arid fields of rural India we meet a farmer who has transformed her community by selling organic food directly to her neighbors. We visit a laboratory in Toronto where scientists are breeding a new kind of rice seed that they claim will feed the world. We learn about Italy’s underground food movement; how university grads are returning to the fields in China, Greece, and France; and how in Detroit, plots of vacant land planted with kale and carrots can help us see what’s possible. Food might be the problem, but as Elton shows, it is also the solution. The food system as we know it was assembled in a few decades—and if it can be built that quickly, it can be reassembled and improved in the same amount of time. Elton here lays out the targets we need to meet by the year 2050. The stories she tells give us hope for avoiding a daunting fate and instead help us to believe in a not-too-distant future when we can all sit at the table.
About the Author
Thomas P. Peschak
is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographersand a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine.
He has won multiple World Press Photo and BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. His other books include Currents of Contrast, South Africaandrsquo;s Great White Shark
, Wild Seas Secret Shores of Africa
, and Lost World
Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1: Five Plots, Five Prairies, Reflooding a DeltaChapter 2: The Cranes Are Flying—AgainChapter 3: From Necedah to Zaragoza via St. Louis: A Restoration Learning CurveChapter 4: Greening the Rainbow Nation: Saving the World on a Single Budget?Chapter 5: Awkward Questions from the Windy City: Why Restore? To What? For Whom?Chapter 6: Keeping Nature Out? Restoring the Cultural Landscape of the Cinque TerreChapter 7: The Last of the Woods laid Low? Fragile Green Shoots in Irish ForestsChapter 8: Future Shock: “Novel Ecosystems” and Climate Change Shake Restoration’s FoundationsChapter 9: Dreamtime in GondwanalandChapter 10: Restoration on a Grand Scale: Finding a Home for 350,000 SpeciesChapter 11: Killing for Conservation: The Grim Precondition for Restoration in New ZealandChapter 12: The Mayan Men (and Women) Who Can (Re)Make the Rain ForestChapter 13: Making the Black Deserts Bloom: Bog Restoration on the Brink of ExtinctionChapter 14: Walk Like a Chameleon: Three Trends, One StoryChapter 15: Conclusions: Why Restore? AcknowledgmentsGlossaryNotesBibliographyIndex