SEVEN FLOWERS

AND HOW THEY SHAPED OUR WORLD

Though Potter is occasionally too thorough in her information, anyone who has ever planted a seed or loved a flower can...

Botanical writer Potter (The Rose, 2011) examines the rich history of “the flowers of healing; of delirium and death; of purity and passion; of greed, envy and virtue; of hope and consolation; of the beauty that drives men wild.”

Going back to evidence of roses more than 35 million years ago, the author traces the beginnings and great influences of that iconic flower, as well as the lotus, lily, opium poppy, sunflower, tulip and orchid. While English gardeners will benefit more from the author’s deep discussion of various species, most other readers will enjoy the luscious botanical descriptions. The earliest descriptions of plants predate Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus’ 18th-century binomial nomenclature and were often misnamed. For example, the fleur-de-lis is not a lily but rather a flag iris, and water lilies aren’t really lotuses. In addition to the power of flowers to speak metaphorically, Potter explores their influence on art, literature and especially the medicinal arts. The opium poppy has 40 alkaloids, including codeine and morphine, while the lovely tulip has no use as either nourishment or medicine. Even so, tulip fever led to the financial ruin of thousands in 17th-century Holland. Globalization of different species of flowers began with Alexander the Great, whose army carried plants to their new conquests, and the Romans continued the spread. The trade routes, especially the Silk Road, transferred even more specimens, as did the plant hunters of the British Empire. The spread of the opium poppy can be laid at the feet of the British, as they fought the opium wars to be allowed to export the opium they grew in India to China.

Though Potter is occasionally too thorough in her information, anyone who has ever planted a seed or loved a flower can appreciate the author’s knowledge and devotion.

Pub Date: March 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0817-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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