Star Wars Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN!

Weekly drawing for $100 credit. Subscribe to for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

More at Powell's

Reviews From


Wednesday, July 4th, 2001


The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

by Michael Pollan

A review by Adrienne Miller

The narrative device: the history of four plants-the apple, the tulip, the potato and cannabis. The story: the symbiotic relationship between humans and plants. The question: Who's the boss of whom here?

This book about the evolutionary dance between humans and plants is so effervescent that it positively sparkles. The Botany of Desire is part memoir ("in my garden right now it is high summer, the middle of July, and the place is so crowded with flowers, is so busy and multifarious, that it feels more like a city street than a quiet corner of the countryside"), and part history lesson. Each of these four rather earthbound plants represents a very human desire (the apple: sweetness, the tulip: beauty, the potato: control, cannabis: intoxication). Plants figured out a long time ago that we want what they have. Who knew how sinisterly smart (evolutionarily speaking) they were? Why, Pollan posits, do we consider flowers beautiful? Because it's in the flower's best interest to keep the humans happy. A lovely book that succeeds in attaining that most elusive of states: grace.

Click here to subscribeSubscribe to Esquire and Save 75%

Get 12 fantastic issues of Esquire magazine for only $8. The best culture, entertainment, style, financial advice, women and more delivered right to your door every month ? at an incredible 81% savings off the newsstand price! What could be better... or easier?

Click here to subscribe now!

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at