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How did the science of botany develop over more than 400 years as the European empires grew and shrank and the New World was exploited and colonised? Prof Petersen tackles this huge subject with skill, discussing, for example, the geopolitics of crop plants such as sugar in the New World and the great collecting expeditions of the 18th and 19th centuries. He is especially alert to the continuous influence of botanical discoveries on European culture, citing the Romantic movement and the reception of Darwinism by a public attuned to the cultivation of unusual plants.