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The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge Library)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge Library).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Redcliffe Salaman(Author)

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First published in 1949, this remarkable book is the culmination of a life-long study of every aspect of the potato. Dr Salaman is concerned first with the history of the potato as a member of the botanical genus Solanum, its adaptation by man as a cultivated plant, and the record of its spread throughout the world; secondly he considers the influence the potato has exerted upon the social structure and economy of different peoples at different times. The archaeological and anthropological evidence for the early significance of the potato among the peoples of Latin America is discussed in detail with numerous illustrations, but the central portion of the book is concerned with the European, and particularly the Irish evidence. Naturally the Great Hunger is the most dramatic single episode in the entire work, and Dr Salaman does full justice to his tragic theme, concluding with the observation that in Ireland 'the potato ended in wrecking both exploited and exploiter'. Elegantly written, with numerous vivid anecdotes, Salaman's History has long enjoyed the status of a classic. This revised impression, with a new introduction and emendations by Professor J. G. Hawkes, enables another generation of readers to sample what Eric Hobsbawm has referred to as 'that magnificent monument of scholarship and humanity'.

'It is a work of profound and accurate scholarship, the product, over long years, of patient and careful research. Side by side with the history of the potato, its adoption by man and its spread throughout the world, is a study of the influence which it has exerted on the social structure of those people who accepted it as a staple article of diet.' Nature'It is a great work, in many respects a noble work, that will excite attention and arouse interest in many quarters.' The Spectator'His profound learning and the felicity of phrase with which he is able to express it from a combination which carries the reader avidly from page to page … Dr Salaman has written a truly monumental work.' Horticultural Abstracts'This book stands as the high achievement of an erudite and humane person of wide knowledge and even wider understanding.' Heredity

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Book details

  • PDF | 768 pages
  • Redcliffe Salaman(Author)
  • Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (22 Feb. 2010)
  • English
  • 2
  • Science & Nature

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Review Text

  • By Evil Gears on 18 June 2012

    This book helped me a lot in my quest for knowledge of the potato and how it's social impact may yet be of use.

  • By peter george on 27 May 2015

    As far as potato history goes, this is it! I thought it was all chips and mash but the later addition of the croquet blew my mind.The political situation of the humble potato is akin to the struggles featured in the harry potter novels.A must read for all you tuber loving fiends out there, or those who have an interest in vegetables in general

  • By Trevor Binks-Jugwell on 26 September 2006

    This is the definitive study of the history of the potato. I first read this book in the mid-1980s. I was working with the then Education Secretary Kenneth Baker on the development of the national curriculum. As a big fan of the noble tuber, he was keen to ensure that Potato Studies was a compulsory subject in secondary schools - including history of the potato, practical modern usage (such as the then fashionable potato print painting method) and nutritional value. I remember visiting his office, where he kept on display a fine collection of dried potatoes - Anyas, King Edwards, Kerr's Pinks; he even let me touch his prize Maris Piper. Of course, in the end this dream was to come to nothing and Potato Studies was replaced by History. I think there a still a few schools in Norfolk that teach it.This is a wonderful book. It is beautifully written with full colour illustrations and pop-ups.

  • By Guest on 24 March 2016

    Before I read this book, I was completely uneducated on the subject of the noble potato. Despite being well informed on the carrot and other root vegetables, there was a glaring potato shaped whole in my knowledge. I am glad to say this book swiftly rectified that; suffice to say that the dark hand of the potato has pulled the strings of history for millennia. Many historical icons have relied on the potato for sustenance, as well as power. Julius Caeser used the potato to invade the magnificent lands of France, and then swiftly lost it to Joan of Arc, who used the common turnip to lead her army. Many tales tell of King Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone, but roughly half way into Chapter 10 I learned it was the humble potato that was extracted from the great rock. In more recent memory, Bruce Jenner harnessed the sheer awesomeness of the potato to do the seemingly impossible: to change from a man, to a man.My only complaint about the book is that it did not have any mention of the sweet potato; given that this book was written in the apartheid era, this is not surprising. A modern update should include the huge role that the sweet potato played in history.Good work rédd!

  • By Dr Rosie on 13 March 2009

    First published in 1949 and showing its age. So much new research has been done that Salaman's arguments (and even his facts) now seem questionable. Moreover, he tackles his subject in grossly excessive detail, virtually recapitulating the whole of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English history merely to show where the potato fits in. It amazes me this book is still in print, and perhaps it shouldn't be. The history of the potato needs a succinct, to-the-point rewrite for the 21st century. Salaman's book, I'm afraid, is a historical artefact in its own right.


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