Plants Go to War.
Plants Go to War
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476676128, $49.95, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II" examines military history from the perspective of plant science. From victory gardens to drugs, timber, rubber, and fibers, plants supplied materials with key roles in victory. Vegetables provided the wartime diet both in North America and Europe, where vitamin-rich carrots, cabbages, and potatoes nourished millions. Chicle and cacao provided the chewing gum and chocolate bars in military rations.
In England and Germany, herbs replaced pharmaceutical drugs; feverbark was in demand to treat malaria, and penicillin culture used a growth medium made from corn. Rubber was needed for gas masks and barrage balloons, while cotton and hemp provided clothing, canvas, and rope. Timber was used to manufacture Mosquito bombers, and wood gasification and coal replaced petroleum in European vehicles.
Lebensraum, the Nazi desire for agricultural land, drove Germans eastward; troops weaponized conifers with shell bursts that caused splintering. Ironically, the Nazis condemned non-native plants, but adopted useful Asian soybeans and Mediterranean herbs. Jungle warfare and camouflage required botanical knowledge, and survival manuals detailed edible plants on Pacific islands. Botanical gardens relocated valuable specimens to safe areas, and while remote locations provided opportunities for field botany, Trees surviving in Hiroshima and Nagasaki live as a symbol of rebirth after the vast nuclear destruction
Critique: A unique blend of botanical and military history by botanist Judith Sumner, "Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II" in an original and meticulous study that is as informed and informative as it is accessible organized and reader friendly in presentation. "Plants Go to War" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library World War II histories and supplemental curriculum studies lists.