The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination

The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination

The Cabaret of Plants is a masterful, globe-trotting exploration of the relationship between humans and the kingdom of plants by the renowned naturalist Richard Mabey.

A rich, sweeping, and wonderfully readable work of botanical history, The Cabaret of Plants explores dozens of plant species that for millennia have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty, and belief. Going back to the beginnings of human history, Mabey shows how flowers, trees, and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death.

Writing in a celebrated style that the Economist calls “delightful and casually learned,” Mabey takes readers from the Himalayas to Madagascar to the Amazon to our own backyards. He ranges through the work of writers, artists, and scientists such as da Vinci, Keats, Darwin, and van Gogh and across nearly 40,000 years of human history: Ice Age images of plant life in ancient cave art and the earliest representations of the Garden of Eden; Newton’s apple and gravity, Priestley’s sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth’s daffodils; the history of cultivated plants such as maize, ginseng, and cotton; and the ways the sturdy oak became the symbol of British nationhood and the giant sequoia came to epitomize the spirit of America.

Complemented by dozens of full-color illustrations, The Cabaret of Plants is the magnum opus of a great naturalist and an extraordinary exploration of the deeply interwined history of humans and the natural world.

Title:The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780393239973
Format Type:

    The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination Reviews

  • Jim

    The introduction was long & full of fuzzy ideas. I'm interested in a scientific look at the plants & he drifts into poetry & criticizes a conservationist for using economic arguments! Ridiculous. Econ...

  • Michael

    Richard Mabey, noted British naturalist, has produced an impassioned plea for accepting plants on their own terms by demonstrating the diverse and still imperfectly understood life processes of plants...

  • Book Riot Community

    Imagine if plants wrote their biography; it would be this book. Mabey takes readers through a fascinating look at our leafy green friends over the last 40,000 years. Even if you don't have a green thu...

  • Andrea

    Can I possibly need more research on the subject after reading Mabey's wonderful book? This is a comprehensive and very enjoyable work on various species of plants and their relationship with mankind....

  • Peter Tillman

    This one is actually pretty good, but it kept losing the competition to other, more interesting books. I've had it out twice, and probably read about half of it. I could get it out again, but likely w...

  • Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)

    Published 2015Author: Richard MabeyI received this book as a Christmas present after I'd seen an article about it in a magazine. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Cabaret of Plants which was a combinat...

  • Kathy

    I left the ease of reading short entertaining books when I saw the cover of this book and was simply drawn in. It is a varied feast of botany and the history thereof, livened with experiences of disco...

  • Josh Friedlander

    A whole string of essays about cool plants: giant Amazonian water-lilies, ancient pagan yews, ferns, daffodils...I learned a lot, and Mabey's writing has flashes of inspiration. But it doesn't quite h...

  • Tuck

    huge overview and history of plants and humans, mainly, but not exclusively, from uk and westerns' perspectives, fun reading, great writer. wonderful color illustrations. end notes and references and ...

  • Andrew Cox

    It took me 2 attempts to read this book which shows how my own emotional wellbeing affects my reading. This was a Xmas present & when I started reading it I failed to engage with it at all. I did meet...