Oranges, John McPhee
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Author: John McPhee

Narrator: Grover Gardner

Unabridged: 4 hr 4 min

Format: Digital Audiobook Download (DRM Protected)

Published: 09/12/2023


A classic of reportage, Oranges was first conceived as a magazine article, but John McPhee kept encountering so much irresistible information that he wrote a book. It is perhaps the last word on the subject (the first came in 500 BC and is attributed to Confucius). McPhee writes about the botany, history, and industry of oranges, from the great orangeries of European monarchs to a fascinating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida, who may be the last of the individual orange barons. Oranges developed in Southeast Asia, and they spread through the world with a timing closely parallel to the spread of Western civilization. It was Columbus himself who brought the first orange seeds to the New World. Botanically, they are spectacularly complicated. They can be completely unripe when they are a brilliant orange and deliciously ripe when they are green as emeralds. Citrus is so genetically perverse that oranges can grow from lime seeds. Most Florida oranges grow on lemon roots. Louis XIV hung tapestries of oranges in the halls of Versailles because oranges and orange trees were the symbols of his nature and his reign. This book, in a sense, is a tapestry of oranges, too—with elements in it that range from the customs of French kings to those of people in the modern Caribbean who split oranges and clean floors with them, one half in each hand.