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The Naming of Names

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  20 reviews
An exhilarating new book from the author of the worldwide bestseller The Tulip.

The Naming of Names traces the search for order in the natural world, a search that for hundreds of years occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe.

Redefining man's relationship with nature was a major pursuit during the Renaissance. But in a world full of poisons, there was also an ur
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2005)
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Pete Sharon
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is not an easy read, and you need to be in the higher echelons of geekitude to want to spend that much time on the history of plant nomenclature since the Greeks. I thought it gave a fascinating window into the medieval mindset: for thousands of years, images of quite common plants were copied from previous sources; yet no one would think to walk outside and look at the actual plant and draw it from nature. That's just not how the scholastic worldview was organized.
With history books with a
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, natural-history
Boring. i'm a botanist. but i don't care for history of publications, folios and wood cuts and who had what library. this is not a book about plants so much, nor much about nomenclature nor plant taxonomy nor even botanical exploration. nothing is mentioned about asian or other cultures' contributions to the science either. nor the plant trade. only a little of these things anyway. then again a book can't be about everything. this is a book for a librarian or book geek or folio geek, but not a w ...more
Maria Rosanna Ioannou
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this and highly recommend it to those interested in plants and garden and also to those interested in the history of books!
May 22, 2008 marked it as to-read
just bought--oh boy oh boy
I'm a history nerd and a plant nerd so this was the book for me and I really enjoyed it. Despite that, I'm not sure that this book does a very good job of doing what it says it's going to do—upon finishing I'm not sure I actually know much more about how we arrive upon botanical names. It's really a series of portraits of men who studied plants and the development of the study of botany in Europe. I also learned that the history of studying plants is more fraught than I had expected!

One of my b
Carina Engqvist
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Juliet Benson
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Karen Soanes
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I didn't think this subject could be thrilling as described in the summary but it was fascinating and kept me reading. I read this as part of some background for a photography project I'm working on and as an aspiring gardener. ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, densely documented book about plant systematization from 387 AD to 1753. Quite outside my scope of history, but the narrative pulls you along.
Genese Grill
A fascinating book about the history of plant naming, herbariums, and early plant illustration, from Theophrastus to Linnaeus. The author is most interested in the attempt to find order in chaos exemplified by Theophrastus's early search for natural laws in plants that might mirror the natural harmony of the cosmos. She traces the loss of manuscripts and the destruction of libraries, the loss and retrieval of Theophrastus's thread over hundreds of years, as researchers and publicists get distrac ...more
A thoroughly beautiful book in both writing and for the illustrations it contains. The narrative is well done and compelling as it explains the beginnings of the journey to name, sort, and order plants beginning with Theophrastus (370 BCE- 290 BCE) and ending with John Ray, the English pastor whose classification system influenced that developed by Carl Linnaeus.
Tina Finneyfrock
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked the book--and am really busy, so it took a lot longer than usual for me to get through. I love the historical depth, but to be honest, I REALLY loved the amazing color plates. Another review mentioned that one had to be a botany geek to enjoy this--which I think is probably true--but I am!!
The amount of material covered in this narrative history of plant taxonomy is grand to say the least, but the material is a bit disorganized and roundabout in reading. The biographies of the botanists are really interesting, but the color plates of old herbals and plant natural histories make the book.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful books you will ever own" It really is a invaluable reference for anyone who loves plants (gardening or the natural world). The authors knowledge is encyclopedic, yet the narrative moves along and is interesting. I go back to this book several times a week. A must have both in hardcover and ebook formats. Something for everyone. ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story was intriguing. I loved the progression through history and the authors feeling of connection to each person who studied plants. It was, however, poorly edited. Despite this, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves plants.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
well written. I thought I would be bored of a book just going through the history of plant names and would skip around. Not true at all. The numerous color plates from ancient herbals make the book that much better.
Dinesh Rao
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
The illustrations are a feast, the history is suitably meandering and very personal, but I felt the distinct lack of a global history of plant taxonomy. Even a few pages on how the rest of the world (esp China/India) approached plants would have been sufficient.
Mar 13, 2013 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I think it is an awesome book. Kudos to the author.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
aristotle had a friend Theophrastus, who took over the school, inherited aristiotles library, wrote on everything and was forgotten.
Joel LeBlanc
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Heavy and dense read, but nowhere else will you get such a wonderful history of botany as well as herbal medicine.
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Anna Pavord is the gardening correspondent for THE INDEPENDENT and the author of widely praised gardening books including PLANT PARTNERS and THE BORDER BOOK. She wrote for the OBSERVER for twenty years, has contributed to COUNTRY LIFE, ELLE DECORATION and COUNTRY LIVING, and is an associate editor of GARDENS ILLUSTRATED. For the last thirty years she has lived in Dorset, England where she is curre ...more

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