26 December 2009

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900

Earlier this year, in an Aliens-L list serve post, Randy Westbrooks recommended "Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900" as "a ‘must read’ for anyone who works on invasive species."

So I bought it. Now, I'm nearly finished reading it, and he's right. (But what else would I expect: invasion ecology isn't just science, it's sociology and culture and story, and if you've ever talked with Randy Westbrooks or heard him speak, you know that he "gets" story.)

It's helping me understand our current invasive issues + what was, and what's still left of, our natural heritage, in ecological, biogeographical, biopolitical, historical and social contexts.

With memorable examples and well-researched historical accounts I haven't come across anywhere before.

Personally, I especially appreciated any of the historic records of natural and ethnobotanical vegetation in eastern North America at the earliest points of first European contact.

First written in 1986, with a new edition in 2004, this book reminds me of the quote: "The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones." - Joseph Joubert

If you're interested in invasion ecology and natural heritage -- or if you liked Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" or Ronald Wright's "Stolen Continents -- you'll appreciate this one.


Steve Willson said...

I just read an interesting book by Virginia Scott Jenkins called "The Lawn - A History of an American Obsession". It explains a lot about the origins of people's attitudes toward the landscape around their homes. It's really interesting how the Garden Clubs of America, U.S. Golf Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture waged an intense campaign to shame people into embracing the idea of a closely mowed lawn. Once the idea got going, lawn care manufacturers took over to keep things moving.

The Crosby book sounds like one I ought to read. Thanks for the information.

native plant girl said...

Hi Steve :)

thanks for the book recommendation :)

i'm reluctant to tell anyone how to spend their money... but yeah, from reading :) you / your blog, i do think you would really like this one, and maybe the "Growing Trees from Seeds" book too. The posts I did for each have links to sample pages. see if you like them.

been meaning to tell you, i love your blog and that sweet spot land you're living on too (i hadn't noticed that pocket even existed in ohio). and it seems to be a confluence of the kind of landscapes i've called home (Appalachia meets midwest plains + some limestone). but the meteor? well, that's unique. :)

happy new year!

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