Language: Trilingual in English, Russian, and Kazakh
This picture album is a scientific guidebook to tulips of Kazakhstan, which provides the basic data on history, biology and modem classification of Kazakhstan tulips.
Although the album is more likely popular literature, we hope that teachers and students of biological specialties, teachers of biology and schoolchildren, tourists and a wide range of nature-lovers will learn something useful from this book.
Beautiful and informative but expensive
by Selwyn Lane in the United Kingdom (08-02-2013)
Tulips of Kazakhstan is a weighty (1875 grams), beautifully-produced and luxurious-feeling tome, covering every species of tulip known from Kazakhstan at the time of publication. Such a volume is never going to be the “last word” on a genus where arguments on classification are continuing unabated and where new discoveries are still being made. Indeed, only last year (2012) a new species was described from Kazakhstan – Tulipa kolbintsevii. Nevertheless, a work detailing and illustrating all the Kazakh species is welcome. A number of the species shown have been previously little-known and photographs of them hard to find, and bringing them all together in this lavishly-illustrated volume is of considerable benefit.
After brief introductory sections on tulips in general and their place in art and literature, the bulk of the book consists of individual chapters / sections on each species. The text is in Kazakh, Russian and English, interspersed with copious illustrations. The botanical features of each species are described and their distribution within the various floral zones of Kazakhstan given. (There is a good map of the floral zones to refer to.) The actual amount of text is disappointingly small, this doubtless being exacerbated by the trilingual format. The photographs are the main emphasis of the book and are generally of high quality, showing plant close-ups as well as more general views of the species in their surroundings. Care is taken to illustrate the (considerable) variability with species, something often neglected.
The authors themselves describe their work as more of a coffee-table book, and this is certainly how it comes across at first sight. Nevertheless, there is quite a lot of detailed taxonomic information in the text, once you have got past the rather stilted English (a prime example of why translation should always be done into one’s native tongue). The authors are also careful to point out where there are differences between authorities on the separation of various species.
This work would certainly grace the bookshelves of any tulip-lover, were it not for the eye-watering price. I must confess that I bought my copy from the publisher’s shop in Almaty last year, thereby paying only a fraction of what NHBS are obliged to charge. Even with my interest in bulbs and in the flora of Kazakhstan, and my not inconsiderable expenditure on books, I doubt very much whether I would have been prepared to stump up almost £200 for the pleasure of owning it. It also falls between two stools: it is far too expensive for the coffee table or general natural history market but nowhere near detailed enough for the purely academic arena. Unless a way can be found to bring the price down, I fear that there will be little market in the UK for this very attractive book.
[editor's note October 2013: we have since found a better supply channel, bringing down the price considerably]