Posts Tagged ‘affect of potato on history’

Picture 039lowGrowing up when my parents spoke of Irish potatoes I thought they came from distant relatives. Now I understand a child can be well fed but not well informed. I knew them as red, white, and sweet, the sweet being a kind of cousin to the red and white. Now I know there are varieties and different plants all requiring names with capital letters. Those were early lessons that pale when compared to the history, economics, culture, and globalization explained in Potato: A History Of The Propitious Esculent by John Reader.

Reader has wrapped his Potatoin foil and baked it to perfection. The book is more than you expect as it is a world study of hunger, food, discovery, poverty, freedom, nationhood, marketing, plant development, agriresearch, and the monster of all monsters–globalization.

From garden variety citizens to the shakers and bakers of the world, this book will affect how the use of land, water, and dwindling world resources are viewed. All from a look at potatoes? Yes. The potato was on to globalization before the word was needed or created.

I love it when a book surprises me. I admire it when it is well written. I respect it when the author keeps his hand off my chain as I like to make my own conclusions and applications. Do a good job of giving me the facts and story. I can handle the rest, and that is the case with this book.

I have one complaint. For a topic of such richness and history, the illustrations are a dud. Maybe the publishers William Heinemann and Yale University Press are to blame. Maybe the author. Maybe both. Whomever dropped the potato. Charles Marlin

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