Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation (Hardcover)
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A groundbreaking look at the Founding Fathers and their obsession with gardening, agriculture, and botany by the author of Magnificent Rebels and New York Times bestseller The Invention of Nature. • “Illuminating and engrossing.” —The New York Times Book Review
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.
About the Author
Andrea Wulf trained as a design historian at London’s Royal College of Art. She is the author of The Brother Gardeners (long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2008 and winner of the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award) and the coauthor (with Emma Gieben-Gamal) of This Other Eden. She has written for The Sunday Times (London), The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, and appears regularly on BBC television and radio. She lives in London.
"Illuminating and engrossing. . . . The reader relives the first decades of the Republic not only through her eloquent and revelatory prose but through the words of the statesmen themselves."—The New York Times Book Review
"Anecdotes . . . shimmer through Andrea Wulf’s fine story of how gardening and farming shaped the thinking of Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison. . . . Luxurious and sharp-witted." —San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] lively and deeply researched history. . . . Wulf ingeniously connects . . . highbrow political philosophy to the founders’ personal passion for horticulture." —The Washington Post Book World
"A timely and passionate book, with resonances beyond today’s legion of new gardeners. . . . Wulf traces the birth of the modern environmental movement back beyond Thoreau and Muir to the founding fathers’ passion for nature and plants." —The Guardian
"Andrea Wulf shows in her eloquently written and very beguiling Founding Gardeners that the garden, the natural world and the shape of a new nation were, for the men who launched the United States, parts of a whole. . . . She is a writer of considerable grace and breadth of vision, and Founding Gardeners is an excellent portrait of the early years of the federal republic. It will delight the general reader." —The Plain Dealer
"A highly enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Wulf combines a sure knowledge of garden history and 18th-centry politics with a keen eye for domestic detail and evocative description. By focusing the grand narrative of early America on four individuals, she writes the best kind of popular history." —The Irish Times
"It is certain that Wulf has wonderfully illuminated an often overlooked and very important aspect of the founders’ lives, providing new reasons to be inspired by them. . . . Delightful, enlightened reading."
"Wonderfully engaging. . . . Breaks new ground." —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Fresh and bountiful. . . . Wulf’s delectable anecdotal approach . . . reveals each founder’s personality and perpective, while her dynamic analysis results in a paradigm-altering vision of how ‘the balance of nature’ underlies our founding principles." —Booklist (starred review)
"Wulf offers a delightful new perspective on the men we usually associate more with politics than with plants." —Publishers Weekly