An elegantly written, thoroughly researched study of all aspects of what we commonly call weeds. Anyone who has ever got down on hands and knees to weed a wildly overgrown garden, and begun to wonder about weeds, will instantly recognize the appeal of this thoughtful and informative book--a thorough study that manages to be at once a meditation, a memoir, and a scientific treatise. Stein, a former book editor who admits to having ""an overestimation of the importance of detail, a near-sighted view of things,"" revels in the peculiar ironies and unexpected beauties of these ""plants that have evolved in association with humans"": the ""polyploidish ways"" of wood sorrel, the sexual depenence of milkweed on butterflies, the frightening cloning habits of bindweed. Yet far from cultivating an impenetrable wilderness of facts, Stein keeps the larger picture constantly in mind, and gives us a pleasingly personal, anecdotal arrangement that brings in her relationships with her husband, her father, and her children as well as descriptions of all the gardens she has ever known and worked in. She talks about her feelings about black plastic as a mulching device, rates the different kinds of hoes, and in the best chapter of the book, ""Sunday in the Garden with Weeds,"" actually brings us out into her garden for a little back-breaking work. As rich autobiographically as it is botanically--and by its end, Stein's study of ""those damn weeds"" takes on a surprising emotional depth.