cloth, 256 p., $39.95
When British environmental historian Peter Coates first visited the United States in 1976, he resisted the urge to confront the U.S. immigration official about his being categorized as an “alien,” finding it an unflattering term. One wonders whether this designation precipitated his drawing strong parallels between American attitudes about human immigration and the arrival of new of flora and fauna into the country.
In American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land, Coates's thought-provoking collection of stories about the invasion of foreign species raises the reader’s awareness of government policies to nonnative populations. As the author points out, among the many problems policymakers face is defining a “native” species versus a foreign introduction, often introducing the “notion of nationality with regard to foreign bodies.” In his conclusion, Coates departs somewhat from his xenophobic theory, saying that while attitudes and policies toward immigrants — whether people, flora, or fauna — may be similar, there is no indication of “a clear, causal relationship between them.”
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden