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Ginseng, the Divine Root: The Curious History of the Plant That Captivated the World
by David A. Taylor (Goodreads Author)
The story behind ginseng is as remarkable as the root itself. Prized for its legendary curative powers, ginseng launched the rise to power of China's last great dynasty; inspired battles between France and England; and sparked a boom in Minnesota comparable to the California Gold Rush. It has made and broken the fortunes of many and has inspired a subculture in rural Ameri ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 18th 2006 by Algonquin Books
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Written in a manner that has become popular with journalists Taylor traces the history of ginseng, specifically wild ginseng and how it is harvested in North America and Asia. The narrative allows Taylor to meet people all along the eastern Appalachians who depend on the root to help them get by. It is an interesting read.
This book could have used a lot more editing, and a more organized structure, but the truth is that the story of ginseng itself really lacks in drama. I've read a number of "pop non fiction" books about single plants or ingredients, and while many have had their flaws, the subject matter was at least interesting. I feel like, having read an entire book about ginseng, my understanding of it is roughly the same as it was before: the Chinese value the root for its medicinal properties, although Wes ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Mike Maurer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: american history, ginseng economics
This is an excellent book to understand the history of ginseng in North America. Yes, dear readers, ginseng digging goes back to the colonial days. American ginseng found a ready market in Asia and has been exporting ever since. An amazing cast of characters is met up and down the Appalachians that have some interest in ginseng. The author kept my interest as he moved through the supply chain of ginseng in the US, from the growers, to the diggers (poachers), to the agents that export it.
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