Jordan Goodman


Planting the World

A bold new history of how botany and global plant collecting – centred at Kew Gardens and driven by Joseph Banks – transformed the earth.

Botany was the darling and powerhouse of the eighteenth century. As European ships ventured across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, discovery bloomed. Bounties of new plants were brought back, and their arrival meant much more than prettier flowerbeds – it offered a new scientific frontier that would transform Europe, enabling huge improvements in industry, medicine, eating and drinking habits, and even fashion.

Joseph Banks was the dynamo for this momentous change. As botanist for James Cook’s great voyage to the South Pacific on the Endeavour, Banks collected plants on a vast scale, armed with the vision – as a child of the Enlightenment – that scientific advancement was the key to political and economic progress. Banks saw that to travel physically was to advance intellectually, and his thinking was as intrepid as Cook’s seafaring. In this epic history of a world in flux, Jordan Goodman takes us through the radically influential and physically daring expeditions Banks enabled – of Francis Masson to the Cape Colony, George Staunton to China, James Bowie to Australia, William Bligh to Tahiti and Jamaica, among many others. Goodman also takes us back to the early years of Kew Gardens, which Banks advised on, developed and supplied, and now has one of the largest and most diverse botanical collections in the world.

In a rip-roaring expedition across high seas around the world, in their own words and based on original sources in many languages, Jordan Goodman gives an epic history of how the adventures of Banks and his diverse collectors impacted not only Britain but the rest of the world.