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Misty mountainous landscape of Myanmar, silhouettes of trees, The WEEPING GOLDSMITH Discoveries in the Secret Land of Myanmar in black font above.

The Weeping Goldsmith

Discoveries in the Secret Land of Myanmar

By (author) W. John Kress


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  • Distinguished Curator and Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, W. John Kress, recounts his natural history exploration in Myanmar
  • Covering nine years in the wild lands of Myanmar in search of rare, beautiful, and scientifically unknown plants
  • Illustrating the text are some 200 colour photographs of the incredible plants, people, landscapes, and temples as well as 30 archival images of Burma taken by past explorers
Full Description
In the great tradition of Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, this book is a first-person narrative of daunting travel and scientific discovery in the little-known country of Myanmar. Dr. Kress explored many areas in this enigmatic country, surveying its teak forests, bamboo thickets, timber plantations, rivers, and mangroves to document its incredible botanical diversity. Myanmar is one of the great biodiversity hot spots in Asia, but because of its social isolation and reputation for political repression it has been closed to – or avoided by – many scientists. Nevertheless, Dr. Kress was determined to search for and record plants that had not been studied since they were first discovered by Western botanists over a century ago. Among the rarities he came upon was a new species of plant called the weeping goldsmith, a ginger flower whose Burmese name was derived from the legend that the local goldsmiths were reduced to tears because none of their own creations could rival its exquisiteness. Dr. Kress also relates how he came to appreciate the people and culture of Myanmar through an understanding of their flora, natural habitats, and human-dominated environments. Included are fascinating excerpts from his field journals that serve as counterpoints to the accounts of earlier plant explorers. Illustrating the text are some 200 of Dr. Kress’s own colour photographs of the incredible plants, people, landscapes, and temples he witnessed in his travels as well as 30 archival images of Burma taken by past explorers. The back matter features an illustrated portfolio of representative native plants. This lively armchair exploration should appeal to a general readership as well as to botanists, conservationists, and environmentalists.
About the Author
W. John Kress is a Curator of Botany and Research Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the co-author of A Checklist of the trees, shrubs, herbs, and climbers of Myanmar and Plant Conservation - A Natural History Approach, and has written many botanical articles.  Wade Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and has written many books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, and Light at the Edge of the World
Abbeville Press
2nd Oct 2020
World excluding USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia
251 mm x 191 mm
288 Pages
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