Courtney reviews “Founding Gardeners”

“Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation,” by Andrea Wulf, 712.0973 WU

Too often, historical figures are rendered one-dimensional in our minds. We forget that these people were complicated, often conflicted, and entirely human. Andrea Wulf’s “Founding Gardeners” gives four such figures – George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison – new dimension: that of a gardener.

I found this book fascinating. I had never thought about gardening as a political act before. Wulf painstakingly demonstrates the connection between these four men’s political thinking and the gardens they grew (or had grown for them), and vice versa. For a work of history, Wulf’s writing is easy to read. My biggest qualm is that I would have liked the illustrations to be embedded into the text, rather than in specific sections. I assume that doing this would have meant forgoing color illustrations, and this is the reason for that formatting decision.

“The Founding Gardeners” will appeal most to lovers of American history and gardening enthusiasts. Even more so if you are both!

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