Aliens in the Backyard: Plant and Animal Imports into America (Paperback)John Leland (author)
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In considering the new home that imported species have made for themselves on the continent, John Leland departs from those environmentalists who universally decry the invasion of outsiders. Instead Leland finds that uncovering stories of alien arrivals and assimilation is a more intriguing--and ultimately more beneficial--endeavor. Mixing natural history with engaging anecdotes, Leland cuts through problematic myths coloring our grasp of the natural world and suggests that how these alien species have reshaped our landscape is now as much a part of our shared heritage as tales of our presidents and politics. Simultaneously he poses questions about which of our accepted icons are truly American (not apple pie or Kentucky bluegrass; not Idaho potatoes or Boston ivy). Leland's ode to survival reveals how plant and animal immigrants have made the country as much an environmental melting pot as its famed melding of human cultures, and he invites us to reconsider what it means to be American.
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 336 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
Leland is a lively writer and has amassed a mountain of research, pulling in everything from the Thugs of India (in a discussion of jimsonweed) to Archy, Don Marquis's poetic cockroach. . . . The chapters on psychoactive plants and the environmental impact of Native Americans are particularly interesting.
Rich in detail and accessibly written, Leland's book will delight serious gardeners who may wonder about the origins of the plants they so carefully cultivate. Even the non-botanical reader can take pleasure in the unusual, unlikely, and downright strange ways in which so many plants and animals have been introduced to America.
Columbia (S.C.) State
Aliens in the Backyard takes readers on a fine ramble through the fact and fiction, lore and legend of introduced species, covering everything from the boll weevil to the ailanthus tree, accidental and deliberate introductions, and species that came by themselves. Leland's account contains solid biological information but also odd facts and curious consequences that should have readers turning the pages and, once they finish, looking at the plants and animals around them with a new understanding.
Thomas R. Dunlap, author of Saving America's Wildlife: Ecology and the American Mind, 1850-1990
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