Rosa: The Story of the Rose

Yale Univ. Mar. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780300251111. $30. GARDENING
The rose is a potent symbol across cultures and history; it seems that few religions or civilizations in regions where the rose grows have not embraced it. This heavily illustrated book treads lightly over the 35-million-year story of the rose, not trying to be comprehensive but instead to give a very short treatment, through stories and asides, of the ways in which humans have understood the rose. Horticulturalist Kukielski and historian Phillips touch on a few aspects of the practicalities of growing roses, particularly in chemical-free treatments, but go into more depth on the history of rose breeding and hybridization throughout the centuries. Hundreds of photographs, art reproductions, and manuscripts illustrate a beautiful book that invites exploration. The discussion of the rose in religious history is one of the most extensive and engaging topics and gives the richest explanation as to why roses have been so commercially successful over the course of history. Art history and politics also make a strong showing in subsequent chapters.
VERDICT While not a strictly a gardening or history book, this resource will amuse and delight gardeners and lovers of floral design and art history.
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