The Tulip: The Story of a Flower That Has Made Men Mad

Anna Pavord, Author Bloomsbury Publishing PLC $40 (448p) ISBN 978-1-58234-013-5
This splendidly extravagant history is only the latest example of how far an obsession with Queen Tulipa can lead. Pavord (The Flowering Year), the gardening correspondent for the Independent, searched the world's libraries and archives and trekked over war-torn mountainsides to put together an astonishing bouquet of economic and cultural lore, grand historic trends and horticultural exotica. Her witty, frighteningly erudite story starts in Turkey, where Sultans of old held nightly entertainments in gardens lit by mirrored lanterns and required guests to dress in colors to match the tulips. Holland of 1634-1637 saw the famous Tulipomania, during which a single bulb could be traded for the price of the most expensive house in Amsterdam. Seventeenth-century French ladies of fashion wore tulips like jewels (and paid as much for them), and monographists puzzled endlessly over why plain blossoms could suddenly transform themselves into feathered and flamed curiosities. As for Enlightenment England, supposedly sensible people were not immune to the rage, and burgeoning florists' societies were dedicated to growing the flower in the island's wet and clammy soil. Though this isn't a how-to manual, gardeners will appreciate the encyclopedic descriptions of wild species and garden varieties of tulips. Lastly, the sumptuous illustrations covering five centuries of tulip-inspired art and artifacts will dazzle browsers and botanists alike. About much more than a lovely flower, this book will give readers a panoramic eyeful of culture, aesthetics, politics and economics--in short, the spectrum of human endeavor as revealed in the passage of the tulip through history. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-58234-130-9
Hardcover - 420 pages - 978-0-7475-4347-3
Hardcover - 440 pages - 978-0-7475-7190-2
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-7475-4296-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4088-5903-2
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7475-4621-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-5436-2355-0
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