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Reviews of Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America

Good Rating
Book Profile
Author (1): Kim Todd
Author (2): Claire Emery

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: January 2001
Published by: W.W. Norton & Company
List price: $26.95
ISBN Number: 0393048608



  Feedback History and Summary  
1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives


Positive Equilibrium On Sep 20, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

A Natural History of Exotic Plants. Me personally, I am an eternal optimist. I found her writing to be somewhat fatalistic however I would have to rate her knowledge of the subject as extensive and therefore the positive rating. An extremely thought provoking book.

Here's a description from //

"A bewitching look at nonnative species in American ecosystems, by the heir apparent to McKibben and Quammen.

When Europeans arrived in North America they saw, on the one hand, a paradise, and on the other, a place that needed some work. Far from home and seeking to recreate the landscapes they'd left behind, or determined to improve on what they found, they introduced to their new terrain an amazing array of exotics—plants and animals not native to this continent.

Take the countless pigeons that flutter around our nation's cities in dirty masses. We can blame their ubiquitous presence on seventeenth-century explorers from France, where the birds were treasured as a sign of nobility. Or take the flocks of starlings that descend on fields of grain and pick them clean. In 1890, Shakespeare enthusiast Eugene Schieffelin decided to introduce every bird in Shakespeare's works to New York City's Central Park, including starlings. Some two hundred million now fly throughout North America, aggressively driving out native birds from coast to coast.

We're happier to have the Vedalia ladybug, which is credited with saving California's citrus orchards in the 1880s, and the honeybee, which pollinates four-fifths of the country's commercial crops. But what can we say about reindeer? They were brought in—complete with herders from Lapland—by Sheldon Jackson, who thought the reindeer would provide meals for Eskimo and deliver the mail to the far reaches of Alaska. Sea lamprey in the Great Lakes, nutria in Louisiana, gypsy moths in the Northeast, and mosquitoes in Hawaii—all are nonnative and all are making fundamental changes to the landscapes where they now thrive.

Kim Todd brings us these tales and others, portraying their humor, their science, and their hard lessons in brilliant, lyrical prose. More than 4000 exotic birds, insects, fish, mammals, and other creatures live in the United States, sometimes slipping in unnoticed, sometimes causing ecological catastrophe. This book, detailing some of their stories, will entertain, enlighten, and change the way we think about nature."

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