A wonderful introductory guide to the plant kingdom from one of the world's leading naturalists.
Well-known for her pioneering work with primates, Goodall (Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink, 2009, etc.) is now lecturing and encouraging young people to make a difference. With the assistance of Hudson, the author provides a comprehensive overview of the massive diversity of plants and mankind's relations with them, but she always brings her subject back to her own love and enthusiasm for nature. Goodall discusses the origins and history of trees and the importance of forests, and she offers an outline of the development of mankind's knowledge of plants. Her love for nature combines with outrage. She exposes how orchid poachers plunder the areas where the beautiful plants grow and how Western pharmaceutical interests are attempting to subject medicinally useful plants to intellectual property and patent constrictions, despite the fact that the plants have been used by mankind for probably thousands of years. Goodall shows how Monsanto and other genetic modifiers of agricultural seeds have set up a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to increased use of damaging chemicals but does not increase productivity. The author is critical of the effects of corporate and plantation-type production, and she promotes alternative methods of food production. Goodall bolsters her narrative with discussions of the healthy benefits that can be derived from plants, as well as the harm that can be done.
Personal warmth and enthusiasm increase the charm of this celebration of the “beauty, mystery, and complexity” of the plant world.