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adventure & exploration

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe

Glynis Ridley.
Publisher Crown  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780307463524
Pages/Publication Date 288/2010
Daedalus Item Code 23501
List Price: $25.00
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An herbologist in 18th-century France and the lover of botanist Philibert Commerson, Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a man to accompany him on the first French circumnavigation of the world. Glynis Ridley, who told the story of a globetrotting rhinoceros in Clara's Grand Tour, unearths Baret's long obscured but very real contributions to science, and the high price she paid for invading a man's world at sea.

"[Glynis] Ridley's mission is to resurrect forgotten yet significant episodes in the emerging field of life sciences during Europe's age of enlightenment.... She takes on the thrilling and incensing story of Jeanne Baret. Born in 1740 in France's Loire valley, Baret became an expert 'herb woman' who proved to be indispensable to the ambitious botanist Philibert Commerson, accompanying him as his assistant when Commerson was appointed naturalist for France's first expedition to circumnavigate the globe. But women were forbidden, so Baret dressed as a man. Could she really fool the 330 men she lived with under grueling circumstances for three years? After tracking down and analyzing every scrap of paper pertaining to this historic voyage, Ridley tells the horrific story of Baret's brutal outing and reclaims with vigor Baret's discoveries as a pioneering botanist, including the flowering vine now known as bougainvillea, which Commerson named after the expedition commander, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. Woven throughout this gripping story are Ridley's piquant insights into 18th-century exploration, botany, taxonomy, biopiracy, and sexism. Baret could not have asked for a more exacting and expressive champion. Ridley is incandescent in her passion for the truth."—Booklist (starred review)

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