LUTHER BURBANK by Ken & Pat Kraft


Email this review


A biography of Burbank in 1967 is a fine idea if only because it is a reminder that until recently the science of botany was essentially divorced from practice. There were eminent European and American scholars adept at classification and even knowledgeable about the infant laws of genetics, but there was in America only one true ""laborer in the vineyard,"" who went about cross-pollinating or selectively grafting plants to create new, appetizing and/or fragrant, pretty products. That he was sui generis, a unique flowering of New England stock transplanted to California soil, the Krafts make abundantly clear. That he was a gifted, single-minded, hard working, self-made man, ditto. But in the end, the Krafts' treatment embarrasses. There is too much devotion to the concept of a genius, modest (but given to exaggeration), practical (but easily persuaded to support grandiose mailorder schemes), non-religious (but convinced he could talk to plants). There is much psychological interest here; too bad it is overshadowed by zeal, awkward writing, and repetition of the less interesting details of Burbank's life.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1967
Publisher: Meredith