Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History (out of print)
Plants are so ubiquitous, such a common feature of the world around us, that we rarely stop to consider the profound impact they have on our everyday lives. We give flowers on special occasions, spend many dedicated hours nurturing gardens, use them for dyes and construction, and turn them into cosmetics and medicines. We are also entirely dependent on them for sustenance - even when we eat meat, the animals that provide it have been raised on plants. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilisation. Entries range from crops like rice and wheat that feed whole populations, to herbs and spices that are highly prized for their medicinal qualities. Weaving together strands of economic, political, and industrial history, each entry is a fascinating look at the most influential plants known to mankind.
Bill Laws is the author of ten books, including Common Losses: Essays and Interviews on Trees, Woods and the Green Man; Spade, Skirret and Parsnip: The Curious History of Vegetables; and Byways, Boots and Blisters: A History of Walkers and Walking. He has also edited a series of journals and books on rural history for the last 20 years, the latest publication, A Slap of the Hand, being a social history of a country cattle market.