A Rum Affair: A True Story Of Botanical Fraud

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9780306810602: A Rum Affair: A True Story Of Botanical Fraud

A Rum Affair is an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intrigue—critically acclaimed and a finalist for the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. In the 1940s, the eminent British botanist John Heslop Harrison proposed a controversial theory: Species of plants on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, he said, had survived the last Ice Age. His premise flew in the face of evidence that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland, but he said he had proof—the plants and grasses found on the Isle of Rum—that would make his name in the scientific world. Harrison didn't anticipate, however, the tenacious John Raven, an amateur botanist who boldly questioned whether these grasses were truly indigenous to the area, or whether they had been transported there and planted. What seems at first a minor infringement of academic honesty soon becomes an enthralling tale of rival scientists and fraudulent science, a skillful whodunit that, in the hands of the talented Sabbagh, joins the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction.

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Review:

Take a garrulous old university professor with a knack for making extraordinary (and highly suspicious) botanical discoveries, a scientific community becoming increasingly skeptical of his claims, and an amateur botanist keen to find out the truth, and the stage is set for an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intrigue.

Professor John Heslop Harrison of Newcastle University was one of the most respected and knowledgeable botanists of the first half of the 20th century. His greatest passion was for the plants of the Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland. He came to believe that some of the islands' plants were survivors from a time before the last Ice Age, a theory bound to be controversial given that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland. In support of his theory, Heslop Harrison began to report sightings of plants that no one had ever seen on the islands before, and the botanical community started to get suspicious. Were the plants really where Heslop Harrison claimed they were? If so, how did they get there? Could they really have survived on the islands since the last interglacial? Or had the wily old professor carried the specimens to the Hebrides from their sites of origin and planted them?

Karl Sabbagh relates the shady tale of John Heslop Harrison in his highly engaging book A Rum Affair (Rum is the name of the Hebridean island where Harrison made many of his most extraordinary--and suspicious--discoveries). Sabbagh examines the thoughts, actions, and motivation of Harrison and his academic enemies with great aplomb, and goes on to explore how some scientists are driven to the belief that fakery can be in the interest of science. Sabbagh's writing style is sometimes dry and detailed, as befits the treatment of a rather touchy subject, but the book is also laced with absorbing anecdotes and wry humor. It's a winner in a popular history of science genre that is becoming a bit overpopulated these days. --Chris Lavers, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Karl Sabbagh earned his degree at King's College, Cambridge, before joining BBC Television. He is the author of five books, among them The Living Body and Power into Art. He lives near Stratford-Upon-Avon.

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Buchbeschreibung INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Buchzustand: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.A Rum Affair is an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intrigue,critically acclaimed and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In the 1940s, the eminent British botanist John Heslop Harrison proposed a controversial theory: Species of plants on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, he said, had survived the last Ice Age. His premise flew in the face of evidence that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland, but he said he had proof,the plants and grasses found on the Isle of Rum,that would make his name in the scientific world. Harrison didn t anticipate, however, the tenacious John Raven, an amateur botanist who boldly questioned whether these grasses were truly indigenous to the area, or whether they had been transported there and planted. What seems at first a minor infringement of academic honesty soon becomes an enthralling tale of rival scientists and fraudulent science, a skillful whodunit that, in the hands of the talented Sabbagh, joins the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction. Buchnummer des Verkäufers APC9780306810602

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Buchbeschreibung INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Buchzustand: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A Rum Affair is an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intrigue,critically acclaimed and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In the 1940s, the eminent British botanist John Heslop Harrison proposed a controversial theory: Species of plants on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, he said, had survived the last Ice Age. His premise flew in the face of evidence that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland, but he said he had proof,the plants and grasses found on the Isle of Rum,that would make his name in the scientific world. Harrison didn t anticipate, however, the tenacious John Raven, an amateur botanist who boldly questioned whether these grasses were truly indigenous to the area, or whether they had been transported there and planted. What seems at first a minor infringement of academic honesty soon becomes an enthralling tale of rival scientists and fraudulent science, a skillful whodunit that, in the hands of the talented Sabbagh, joins the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction. Buchnummer des Verkäufers APC9780306810602

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Buchbeschreibung Da Capo Press. Paperback. Buchzustand: New. Paperback. 296 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.5in. x 0.9in.A Rum Affair is an absorbing tale of scientific chicanery and academic intriguecritically acclaimed and a finalist for the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. In the 1940s, the eminent British botanist John Heslop Harrison proposed a controversial theory: Species of plants on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, he said, had survived the last Ice Age. His premise flew in the face of evidence that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland, but he said he had proofthe plants and grasses found on the Isle of Rumthat would make his name in the scientific world. Harrison didnt anticipate, however, the tenacious John Raven, an amateur botanist who boldly questioned whether these grasses were truly indigenous to the area, or whether they had been transported there and planted. What seems at first a minor infringement of academic honesty soon becomes an enthralling tale of rival scientists and fraudulent science, a skillful whodunit that, in the hands of the talented Sabbagh, joins the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 9780306810602

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