Sandra's Reviews > Sex, Botany And Empire

Sex, Botany And Empire by Patricia Fara
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Jul 18, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction, gardening
Read from July 05 to 19, 2011

I was expecting more from this book than it delivered. A disappointment.

Sure we find out all about Sir Joseph Bank's public life, which I knew most of anyway, being a semi-literate Aussie. But we learn next to nothing of his personal life. To me that is not a well rounded biography.

We learn he dumped his fianceé after being on his South Pacific trip with Captain Cook, where Aussie was discovered, for 3 years. There are 2 lines somewhere in the middle of the book that state he married a woman wealthier than himself and that his sister Sarah came to live with them and there was a menage á trois. That's it!

Oh sorry, we also learn that he was a typical Victorian gentleman, the epitomy of WASP and the rest of the world was dogfood.

Rant over. Some of the good things I learned that I hadn't known was that Captain Bligh and the Bounty were actually on a voyage to ship breadfruit from Tahiti to the caribeen to feed the plantation slaves at the behest of Banks, when the mutiny happened.

Apart from it being his idea to ship all those excess prisoners out here from England, which ended up being a very good thing, he also managed to send Merino sheep, wheat and lots of other food staple crops. He also sent various crops to other English colonies so that we could all feed England and do our bit for "the mother country."

Still, this is a very rambling style of book and not well written IMO. It jumped all over the place.

I've no idea of birth or death dates for either gentleman. I deliberately confined most of my review to Joseph Banks because I did know something of his life but I didn't know anything of Carl Linnaeus before this book, so I did learn something. He is the father of the modern way of classifying, particularly plants but also the animal kingdom, eg homo sapiens. And being a gardener, I use his system all the time.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Andrew I suggest you look into the Further Reading section of the book. It was, after all, barely over 150 pages long. If you were looking for a definitive biography about Banks, you should have kept looking.


Sandra Andrew, thanks for that, but it was a casual interest only.


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