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Jocelyn Brooke's love affair with wild flowers and home-made fireworks began when he was growing up in Kent. But there was one particular flower, especially rare and beautiful, which became an obsession. Over three decades and through two world wars, in the deserts of Libya and the woodlands of Italy, in the chalk downs of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, he searched continually for his most beloved and elusive Orchis militaris, the military orchid. Jocelyn Brooke blends memoir, botany and satire to recall this lifelong quest. The Military Orchid, initially published in 1948, is a comic masterpiece and became widely revered: Kingsley Amis described Brooke as 'brilliant and exciting', John Betjeman called him 'as subtle as the devil', and to Anthony Powell he was 'one of the most interesting and talented' writers to emerge after the Second World War.
"Jocelyn Brooke's cracklingly bizarre The Military Orchid, a memoir-satire-nature-quest about orchids and home-made fireworks, first published in 1948, and just reissued in a beautiful edition by Little Toller Books."
– Robert Macfarlane in Books of the Year