PLANTING THE WORLD, Joseph Banks and his collectors: an adventurous history of botany

: Goodman (J.)

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520pp., b/w & colour illus., maps. paperback, Reprint, London (2020) 2021


English botanist Joseph Banks (1743-1820) commissioned many plant collecting expeditions, including Francis Masson's 1772 journey to the Cape Colony.

"... Plants emerge from his fascinating tale not as innocent parties, but as participants in the great imperial machinations of their day. The plantsmen who obsessed over them served masters more interested in power than petals. Towering over the seemingly innocent world of botany, exploration, and science was the clash of imperial powers that defined the period." Clement Knox, Daily Telegraph

”'Goodman turns his attention to the 'adventurous history' of the botanists, naturalists, gardeners, and ship captains who carried out his vicarious plant-hunting across the world, shining a light on individuals whose achievements are relatively uncelebrated. The book is particularly strong on the minutiae of planning, negotiating, and financing these ventures, and on the disasters that so often beset them … For each expedition, Goodman builds up a picture based on meticulous research in original sources … Goodman illustrates vividly how adept [Banks] was, all through his career, at piggybacking on different government, diplomatic, and mercantile ventures" Jenny Uglow, New York Review of Books

Jordan Goodman is Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. He is the author of The Rattlesnake: A voyage of discovery to the Coral Sea, The Devil and Mr Casement and Paul Robeson: A watched man.