In Praise of Chickens, a breezy tour of chicken wisdom from Aristotle to Mark Twain, with many beautiful antique illustrations, is now available from booksellers everywhere.
Ever wonder if chickens have their very own vocabulary, how to get hens to lay in winter, or why churches have weathervanes shaped like roosters? Can’t remember which royal court it was where the ladies hatched eggs in their bosoms? Whether you want the earliest recorded instructions on how to hypnotize a chicken (1646) or nineteenth-century tips on sending a year’s supply of fresh eggs to your child in college, you’ll find the answer here, along with portraits of prize-winning breeds both fierce and fluffy.
In Praise of Chickens is full of information both practical and frivolous (and who can have enough of either sort?), wonderful pictures, and ample poultry trivia for at least a year of dinner party or Chicken Meet-Up conversations.
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The Garden of Invention, winner of the Caroline Bancroft History Prize for best book in Western American History.
A century ago, Luther Burbank was the most famous gardener on the planet. Burbank had learned the secrets of breeding and crossbreeding ordinary plants from farm and garden until they were tastier, hardier, and more productive than ever before. His name was inseparable from a cornucopia of new and improved plants — fruits, nuts, vegetables, and flowers — for both home gardens and commercial farms and orchards.
The Garden of Invention revisits a time when agriculture was moving west across the continent, when plant inventors were popular heroes, and when the public clamored for new varieties that would extend seasons, increase yields, look beautiful, or simply — and wonderfully — be different from anything seen before.
“The Garden of Invention is a long overdue volume in food literature—a great story, well told.” - Mark Kurlansky, the New York Times best-selling author of Cod and Salt
“Gardening, whether in a backyard plot or a hundred-acre orchard, is an audacious attempt to improve on nature, and Jane Smith’s fascinating hybrid of biography, history, and botany brings to life the most audacious of them all. In an age when we might be forgiven for thinking it takes millions of corporate dollars and genetic engineers to produce a new plant, The Garden of Invention reminds us how one man’s singular determination, patience, and brilliance can change the world. So put down that French fry (from a Burbank potato) and sample some of the delightful blooms in Smith’s Garden.”
— William Alexander, author of The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
“In this lively and well-researched biography, Jane S. Smith has accorded a giant of American inventiveness the recognition he deserves. Thanks to this pioneering study of a horticultural genius, Luther Burbank of Santa Rosa, California can now take his place alongside Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and the other entrepreneur-inventors of his era.”
- Kevin Starr, University of Southern California,
author of Americans and the California Dream
“Jane Smith has written a marvelous biography of Luther Burbank, an American folk hero, a botanical wizard and impresario of the garden, who spent his life wrestling nature into compliance with human will and desire. The Garden of Invention is a very human story of the boundless imagination and ambition that underlie the woes and wonders of agriculture today. Like Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire or The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Garden of Invention will fascinate anyone who eats.”
-Ruth Ozeki, author of All Over Creation and My Year of Meats
“Jane Smith couldn't be more timely. She resuscitates that ambiguous American original, Luther Burbank, the endlessly inventive seedsman who put genetics to work and started the never-ending race to breed larger, better, more commercial plants—today, a mixed blessing, the promise of bounty compromised by fear of scientific experiment. The Garden of Invention is an engrossing read on a very important subject.”
- Gina Mallet, author of Last Chance To Eat:
The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
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