Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation

Andrea Wulf, Knopf, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-26990-4
Not only did Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison operate farms, all believed agriculture was the noblest occupation and the foundation of democracy. All loved to talk about it, write about it, and spend leisure time (between building a nation) inspecting local farms. Scholars have not ignored this, but British design historian Wulf (The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession) focuses on the agricultural passion that also reflected the political convictions of America's founders. Even while fighting the Revolution and governing the nation, Washington bombarded the manager of his beloved Mount Vernon with detailed instructions and insisted on prompt replies. During years of diplomatic service overseas, Adams and Jefferson toured private gardens and studied the latest agricultural techniques. This obsession went beyond the personal, influencing the design of Washington, D.C., and the White House, where Jefferson wanted only native shrubs and trees. Detailed botanical descriptions, garden layouts, and crop yields of their estates may appeal more to fans of horticulture than of history, but Wulf offers a delightful new perspective on the men we usually associate more with politics than with plants. 16 pages of color illus.; 19 b&w illus. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-88123-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-307-59554-6
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4090-2257-2
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-09-952562-2
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-434-01910-6
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-307-39068-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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