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No other flower has come close to capturing the western imagination in quite the same way. Tulip fever may have flared fiercely and suddenly in seventeenth-century Europe. The Madonna lily may match the white rose for its symbolic purity. But no other flower fascinates like this mysterious flower. In its very ambiguities lies the blood of Christ with the sweat of Muhammad, the sacred and the profane, life and death, the white rose of chastity and the red rose of consummation. In The Rose, Jennifer Potter sets out on a quest to uncover the life of a flower which has been viewed so heterogeneously by different cultures in different countries across the centuries. She discovers what it is about the rose that has driven people to distraction, where the roses of today originated and how they propagated and spread. From the Greek and Roman empires, through Europe and the Middle East to China, Jennifer Potter's search unfolds across the world, enriched by fabulous historical characters, literary evocations and man's perpetual love of this unique flower.