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Orchid Fever

Eric Hansen

676 valoraciones por Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0413747409 / ISBN 13: 9780413747402
Editorial: Methuen Publishing Ltd, 2000
Usado Condición: Used; Good Encuadernación de tapa dura
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Detalles bibliográficos

Título: Orchid Fever

Editorial: Methuen Publishing Ltd

Año de publicación: 2000

Encuadernación: Hardcover

Condición del libro:Used; Good

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Sinopsis:

A seductive journey into the obsessive, outrageous, and mesmerizing world of orchids.

From the steaming jungles of Borneo to the hallowed hallways of Kew Gardens, from the clandestine orchid nurseries of Europe to the peat bogs of northern Minnesota, here are luscious, sexy flowers, orchid smugglers, fist-fighting botanists, moths with twelve-inch-long tongues, and government officials who raid orchid nurseries with attack dogs and automatic weapons. Strange tales of insect pollinator fidelity, the orchid ice cream makers of eastern Turkey, and man-crushing killer orchids weighing half a ton are blended with stories about a wide range of gentle people whose passion in life is the creation of scented, fragile flowers.

Eric Hansen spent seven years exploring the far corners of the earth -- marveling at flowers of uncommon beauty, studying the history of the orchid trade, and grappling with the vicious, bizarre, and petty world of plant politics that sometimes makes it impossible to protect endangered species. Hansen brings to life the colorful flowers and the even more colorful people who are attracted to them, as he illuminates a funny, weird, and poignant world of horticultural passion and pathos.

Review:

At first blush, the subtitle of intrepid traveler Eric Hansen's floral account might seem, well, hyperbolic. After taking this whirlwind tour of the hidden world of rare orchid collectors, the reader will find the words well chosen. Hansen invites us into a strange demimonde of intrigue and desire, at the center of which is the orchid, that shadowy and somewhat sinister parasitic oddball of the plant kingdom. Orchid raising and trading is big business. Worldwide, the retail economy in orchids adds up to some $9 billion; in the United States, wholesalers ship nearly 8.5 million plants a year, while in Holland a single nursery produces 18 million. "Several million people worldwide now grow orchids," the author notes, "and this botanical craze has already eclipsed both the nineteenth-century frenzy for orchids as well as the tulip madness that gripped the Netherlands in the seventeenth century."

With such willing customers, it's no wonder that a thriving black market now exists. To serve it, orchids are taken illegally from sensitive ecological areas in places like Thailand, Borneo, and darkest Minnesota. In scenes reminiscent of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, Hansen follows the trail of orchid smugglers, pursuing money and plants in a whodunit tale that involves botanical gardens, scholars, scientists, ordinary enthusiasts, and "plant cops"--international eco-police whose job it is to stop the traffic in rare and often endangered plants. Those vigilantes have their work cut out for them, Hansen writes, especially because some of the current laws may be misguided, causing more harm than good and equating honest breeders with botanical desperadoes. The laws are bound to fail in any event, he suggests, if only because the plant trade, like that of the drug trade, is simply too big to curtail.

Orchid enthusiasts and admirers of good journalism alike will find plenty of interest in Hansen's vivid, richly anecdotal investigation. --Gregory McNamee

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