I was disappointed by this book. Some of its info and photos are fascinating, and it does have some surprising facts about roots in it, but I was expecting more info about how roots grow and why they do the things they do (e.g., circle the bottom of a root-bound pot). Years ago, I bought a book about botany for gardeners, and I was fascinated to read about how plants grow above ground as a function of their apical meristem (and how that explains why you can pinch plants back for shorter, bushier plants). The general principles about plant growth in that botany book taught me more about how to prune my plants than any pruning book I've ever seen (because I understand now in general how plants grow and, therefore, how best to prune any particular plant to grow the way I want). The botany book didn't have much about roots, however, so I was intrigued by Kourik's title. I thought that knowing how, in general, roots grow might be really useful for learning how best to handle potted plants or how to site plants out in the garden for best root growth. But Kourik's book really doesn't focus all that much on general principles about roots. Some of its specific info about the roots of particular kinds of plants is interesting, but if you're not growing carrots or other traditional vegetables, there's just not very much here in terms of general principles or specific info for more exotic plants or flowers. So, I didn't really find this book all that helpful or informative for my purposes.
Although I read a tremendous amount of books, there have been very few of them that impressed me enough to warrant an actual review. This book is one of them.
Mr. Kourik is, like me, a self-taught gardener. He learned his lessons from "the school of hard knocks" and his experience in the field really comes through in this book that reads in a conversational tone. He has a real gift for transmitting his knowledge in such a way as to keep the reader interested throughout. I never thought I'd say this about a gardening book, but this was a real page turner.
What happens under the soil is the most important aspect of a plant's health, and this book is the first one that a student of this area should read. The book is not an extensive and complete text book, but it is an excellent primer to help you get your feet wet in learning about plants' feet.
The illustrations are excellent, too, and eye opening as you look at the root structures of various plants and trees.
A+ to Robert Kourik, a brilliant gardener who has contributed this treasure to the body of gardeners. I have other books of his, and I expect I will enjoy them just as much.