Prance, G., Sir & M. Nesbitt. 2005. The Cultural History of Plants. – London/New York, Routledge


  • A.J. Clapham


When I first saw that this book was to be published I thought at last, a book where all the information an archaeobotanist would need on the cultural history of plants, both cultivated and wild, would be present in one easy to use volume. But after I started reading I was soon to be disappointed. Unfortunately, so many errors were spotted in the first 100 pages that I could not finish the book. I do not think that writing negative reviews is a very useful process but I am afraid that in this case, it is very difficult to be positive at all.

Let’s start with the basics: the book’s publisher, Routledge, have a well deserved reputation for producing good quality works but that quality has definitely slipped in this case. The quality of the paper is poor, and the reproduction of the figures is appalling. The line drawings appear either to be badly scanned originals or taken from one internet source, mainly the USDA–NRCS database/Britton, N.L., and A. Brown’s ‘Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada’ (Brown, 1913). The plates are all in black and white and in most cases too small to be of any use; for the high price of this book it could be expected that some of the plates would have been in colour. Read more...

The Cultural History of Plants