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The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest
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The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  243 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Jack Nisbet first told the story of British explorer David Thompson, who mapped the Columbia River, in his acclaimed book Sources of the River, which set the standard for research and narrative biography for the region. Now Nisbet turns his attention to David Douglas, the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout other areas of western North Americ ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Sasquatch Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's an interesting read, especially since I've been to some of the places where David Douglas collected seeds, etc. The writing is reasonably well done, if a bit quaint at times. At first I thought the book must have been written quite a while ago, as the author referred on several occasions, to women who were of "mixed blood." No similar references have yet been made about any of the men in the book. This did not detract sufficiently from the overall quality of the writing to encourage me to p ...more
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had reservations when I started this book. How interesting could a biography of an early 19th century plant collector be? But I found the book fascinating, not for the plant specimens that Douglas carefully collected and sent home to the London Horticultural Society; rather for the adventures that Douglas underwent in the Pacific Northwest, an area that he visited barely twenty years after the Lewis and Clark expedition.

I began reading the book while recovering from surgery in the hospital. Ob
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Added new perspective to Oregon / Pacific Northwest history. Interesting man. Unexpected, in Hawaii ending.

In my childhood, David Douglas was the neighbor high school. Wish I had read the book in high school days, too. The Pacific Northwest in the 1820s by canoe, horse, foot ... collecting, and preparing for shipment to Britain.

Quote :

"VI. Sleeping on Shattered Stones - Summer 1826

"During the first week of June, the traders at Fort Colville packed the season's furs to ship downstream to Fort Va
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-books
Botany is not a field that I would ever have said was particularly interesting. I've never been driven to pick up a book on it or study it in more than the cursory way required in elementary school or general biology classes, but this book provides an interesting view of its importance in the establishment of modern science, as well as civilizations quest to place themselves in a knowable and established world. The story itself can be a bit dry a times, but Nisbet does an amazing job of summariz ...more
Many common plants in the Pacific northwest were first described by David Douglas. You can't look out a window here without seeing Douglas fir and Douglas spirea. I've wondered what the area was like when Douglas first came though. This book gives a taste of what Douglas experienced. An entry in his journal about a pack rat attempting to steal his inkstand rang especially true. Unfortunately not all of Douglas's journals survived so the material for the book I'd really like to read doesn't exist ...more
Really liked this book. Douglas is a fascinating character and this book brings alive his encounters with NW landscapes, plants and animals and his interactions with the native peoples and early settlers.
Deb Rudnick
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
The story of David Douglas is definitely a fascinating one. A complex, driven man, an astounding naturalist and adventurer, with a somewhat more open mind to his fellow humans than one might expect from the 1830s. What was incredible to me was to enter the world of the absolutely insane bounty of wildlife and nature Douglas encountered in this time period, when white folks were still small in number, native people were omnipresent (though beginning to suffer from some of the disease and mistreat ...more
Gail Richmond
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Hole
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Other reviewers have complained that this is merely a retelling of David Douglass' field journals. They seem not to have written field journals themselves.

There's much more here. There is a whopping good story about the opening of northwestern North America. It's no high drama, it doesn't need to be. There are few high-stake moments. But the whole tale is, for Douglass, a high-stake moment. Outside of Britain he was never out of some danger, so his story might seem humdrum to us who take highway
Douglas Dalrymple
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The Collector is a biography of British naturalist and explorer David Douglas who made two significant expeditions to the Pacific Northwest in the 1820s and ‘30s, when the Brits and Americans held joint possession of the territory and no clear boundary had been drawn between Canada and the United States. To the British this was the Columbia District, to the Americans it was the Oregon Country, and Douglas covered it all from the Umpqua River in the south to the upper reaches of the Fraser River ...more
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