The Untold History of the Potato

  • by John Reader
  • Narrated by Martin Hyder
  • 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The potato - humble, lumpy, bland, familiar - is a decidedly unglamorous staple of the dinner table. Or is it? John Reader's narrative on the role of the potato in world history suggests we may be underestimating this remarkable tuber. From domestication in Peru 8,000 years ago to its status today as the world's fourth largest food crop, the potato has played a starring - or at least supporting - role in many chapters of human history. In this witty and engaging book, John Reader opens our eyes to the power of the potato.
Whether embraced as the solution to hunger or wielded as a weapon of exploitation, blamed for famine and death or recognized for spurring progress, the potato has often changed the course of human events. Reader focuses on 16th-century South America, where the indigenous potato enabled Spanish conquerors to feed thousands of conscripted native people; 18th-century Europe, where the nutrition-packed potato brought about a population explosion; and today's global world, where the potato is an essential food source but also the world's most chemically-dependent crop. Where potatoes have been adopted as a staple food, social change has always followed. It may be "just" a humble vegetable, John Reader shows, yet the history of the potato has been anything but dull.

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What the Critics Say

"[T]his accessible account embraces the latest scholarship and addresses the failings of previous works on the subject. Indeed the book, like the tuber it describes, fills a void: the spud now has the biography it deserves." (The Economist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Warmed up mis-Mash of Cold Potato

Before I wasted my monthly credit on this so-called 'untold' review of scholarly agri-economics articles and famous books like The Great Hunger, garnished with dusty Press clippings and all-too-few anecdotes about his own travels, I was looking forward to an entertaining account of a potentially fascinating foodie subject in the style of Mark Kurlansky's COD: A Biography of the Fish that Changed History. Alas, this is a Potato mis-Mash that can only be recommended to those with an academic interest in the production figures of spuds in Papua New Guinea and the effect of blight in the High Andes. Also, I have lived in Ireland for almost 70 years and I have NEVER hear potatoes described as 'praties' except in an Oirish song written for Americans to sing on \"Saint Paddy's Day\", another term that would make real Irish people cringe. An unappetising cold potato of a book that has given me mental indigestion.
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- John Trew

history from the point of view of potatoes

As you can guess from the title this is history told from the point of view of potatoes. It is surplice for me how big was this impact of potatoes on the human history. This is a book for everyone how is interested in history. For me this book and her reader is also good for improving my English.
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- Piotr

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-01-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios