Founding Gardeners

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From the bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, a fascinating look at the Founding Fathers like none you've seen before.

For the Founding Fathers, gardening, agriculture, and botany were elemental passions: a conjoined interest as deeply ingrained in their characters as the battle for liberty and a belief in the greatness of their new nation.
Founding Gardeners is an exploration of that obsession, telling the story of the revolutionary generation from the unique perspective of their lives as gardeners, plant hobbyists, and farmers. Acclaimed historian Andrea Wulf describes how George Washington wrote letters to his estate manager even as British warships gathered off Staten Island; how a tour of English gardens renewed Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adams’s faith in their fledgling nation; and why James Madison is the forgotten father of environmentalism. Through these and other stories, Wulf reveals a fresh, nuanced portrait of the men who created our nation.
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About the author

Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art and is the author of The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World and Founding Gardeners, The Brother Gardeners, and Chasing Venus, as well as the coauthor (with Emma Gieben-Gamal) of This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History. She has written for The Sunday Times, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, and she regularly reviews for several newspapers, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement.

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Published on
Mar 29, 2011
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Gardening / Landscape
History / Military / United States
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From humble beginnings, Rome became perhaps the greatest intercontinental power in the world. Why did this historic city become so much more influential than its neighbor, nearby Latium, which was peopled by more or less the same stock? Over the years, historians, political analysts, and sociologists have discussed this question ad infinitum, without considering one underlying factor that led to the rise of Rome--the geology now hidden by the modern city.

This book demonstrates the important link between the history of Rome and its geologic setting in a lively, fact-filled narrative sure to interest geology and history buffs and travelers alike. The authors point out that Rome possessed many geographic advantages over surrounding areas: proximity to a major river with access to the sea, plateaus for protection, nearby sources of building materials, and most significantly, clean drinking water from springs in the Apennines. Even the resiliency of Rome's architecture and the stability of life on its hills are underscored by the city's geologic framework.

If carried along with a good city map, this book will expand the understanding of travelers who explore the eternal city's streets. Chapters are arranged geographically, based on each of the seven hills, the Tiber floodplain, ancient creeks that dissected the plateau, and ridges that rise above the right bank. As an added bonus, the last chapter consists of three field trips around the center of Rome, which can be enjoyed on foot or by using public transportation.

The acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world—and in the process created modern environmentalism.


One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The James Wright Award for Nature Writing, the Costa Biography Award, the Royal Geographic Society's Ness Award, the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the Kirkus Prize Prize for Nonfiction, the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award

A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Economist, Nature, Jezebel, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, New Scientist, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard, The Spectator

Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes, and mountains. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax-infected Siberia or translating his research into bestselling publications that changed science and thinking. Among Humboldt’s most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature, that it is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone.

Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his relationships with iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how Humboldt’s writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe, and she makes the compelling case that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of natural preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s Walden.

With this brilliantly researched and compellingly written book, Andrea Wulf shows the myriad fundamental ways in which Humboldt created our understanding of the natural world, and she champions a renewed interest in this vital and lost player in environmental history and science.

From the Hardcover edition.
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