cloth, 354 pp., $25.95
In an era noted for its mechanical and technical inventions, Luther Burbank (1849–1926) stands at the forefront of plant breeders who sought to improve the lot of mankind through better plants for the farm, orchard, and home garden. His efforts in bioengineering, based on the work of Charles Darwin, led to the development of more than 800 productive and beautiful plants through breeding and crossbreeding programs. Cultural historian Jane Smith traces Burbank’s beginnings in New England to his successful gardening ventures in California, where he became an international celebrity for his regular introduction of new plants. This fascinating biography causes the reader to examine agribusiness issues more closely and to sympathize with those dedicated scientists in the industry.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden