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Sunflowers: The Secret History

Sunflowers: The Secret History

Joe Pappalardo

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$22.95


ISBN 13: 978-1-58567-991-1
Trim Size: 6x8
Cloth
Overlook
3/13/2008

Product Description

Most people know that Hitler made a serious blunder by invading Russia. Most people don t know that it was the sunflower that prompted him to attempt the invasion. It s true when the wartime cost of cooking oil spiked and German citizens began to starve, Hitler sought an alternative source of oil. He thought he found it in Russia s cash crop of golden sunflower fields.

Promiscuously social and perennially popular, the sunflower has colored the narrative of human history for the past thousand years. Joe Pappalardo s unexpected and highly entertaining social history of this scandalous flower stretches from the Stone Age to the Space Age, from its beatific healing role in Hopi tribal rituals to its covert involvement in the Cold War. In a narrative that spans cutting-edge fields of science and braves such topics as plagiarism and flatulence, Pappalardo explains how sunflowers nearly prevented the Irish potato famine and why this deceptively innocent-looking flower is one of the few species that masturbates. This coy tell-all is a delight for flower lovers and trivia buffs alike.

Praise for Sunflowers: The Secret History
The author s self-confessed obsession with sunflowers, coupled with an inquisitive mind, combine in a book about the plant s history and cultural impact that s full of interesting asides and little-known facts . . . Pappalardo demonstrates a dramatic flair as he makes a strong case for sunflower s grip on humanity. Enjoyable and eye-opening. Kirkus Reviews

[A] trove of entertaining lore [this is an] engaging and expansive look at a flower so ubiquitous that its critical role in cultural development since the dawn of time often goes overlooked. A glib, upbeat writer and fiercely determined researcher, Pappalardo intrepidly investigates everything from the sunflower s genetic history and recent bioengineering discoveries to its influence on global economies from the U.S. to Uganda. Booklist

Joe Pappalardo is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Time, The Dallas Observer, The Village Voice, The New York Sun, and Spirit magazine, among others. He lives in New York.

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