The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obession - Andrea Wulf

Britain is known for its avid gardeners, but what first stimulated this popularity came largely from elsewhere. In The Brother Gardeners (Knopf, $35) Andrea Wulf traces the chain of adventures, discoveries, and friendships that brought about a revolution in botany in the 18th century. When the period began, gardens were formal, geometric constructions enjoyed by the aristocracy and based on French models. By 1760, gardens were everywhere, and even amateurs cultivated their own plots. Wulf focuses on the nearly 40-year trade in plants between the Pennsylvania farmer, John Bartram, and Peter Collinson, the London merchant eager to have specimens of every tree, shrub, flower, and weed he could get from the colonies. Soon English nurseries were supplying European buyers with North American species, while the archetypal English landscaper, Capability Brown, designed gardens full of exotic magnolias and tulip poplars. British gardens continued to reflect the spread of the British Empire, incorporating plants brought back from voyages to Tahiti, the Antipodes, and China. Meanwhile, the introduction of West Indian cotton seeds to Georgia in 1732 set the course for future events.

The Brother Gardeners: A Generation of Gentlemen Naturalists and the Birth of an Obsession By Andrea Wulf Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307454751
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage - March 9th, 2010

The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society - Frans de Waal

After decades of animal research and social theories predicated on notions of competition and “survival of the fittest,” the primatologist Frans de Waal is part of a growing tide of biologists turning attention to the aspects of behavior in humans and animals that strengthen bonds between individuals. It’s now The Age Of Empathy (Harmony Books, $25.99) and time to study not aggression, but social mechanisms like the herd instinct and conflict resolution that keep it in check. In looking beyond the selfish gene to the equally ancient instinct for altruism, de Waal presents dozens of case studies and anecdotes of chimps, apes, elephants, ravens, dolphins, and people who have demonstrated trust in others or helped each other regardless of whether they themselves stood to benefit. De Waal strongly believes in community and his observations demonstrate that the successful evolution of any species depends to a high degree on cooperation.

The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society By Frans de Waal Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307407771
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - September 7th, 2010

The Case for God - Karen Armstrong

Religion today often seems caught between the literalism of fundamentalists and the atheism of materialists. Arguing against both sides of this all-or-nothing debate, Karen Armstrong, the great scholar and historian of religion, looks back to the roots of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other traditions to make The Case For God (Knopf, $27.95). Originally, belief rested in symbol, myth, and mystery. Not orthodox propositions, but behavior specifically delineated as outside everyday concerns was the hallmark of spirituality, and religious practices were designed to reinforce community bonds, teach compassion, and help contain potentially overwhelming emotions like fear, grief, or guilt. The emphasis was on what was unknown and probably unknowable about a deity, and this is in sharp contrast to today’s dogmas and truth claims. Where modern religions have gone wrong, Armstrong argues, is in treating religion like science and expecting the same sorts of certainty from a sacred text that we would from a scientific textbook.

The Case for God By Karen Armstrong Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307389800
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - September 7th, 2010