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Written in 1967, this was my very first John McPhee discovery. I instantly became his biggest fan and have read (nearly) everything of his since. A staff writer at New Yorker since 1953, Pulitzer Prize awarded McPhee manages to take the must mundane subject and make it larger than life. He is rightfully considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction, so gifted he can take one very simple subject and turn it into the most juicy, delicous, and vivid read. This brilliant little bok tracks the uses and myths of oranges, from 6th-century China to Florida's booming citrus industry -- so mouth-watering it causes one to actually smell the ripe oranges he's writing about!— From Vicki's Picks
A classic of reportage, Oranges was first conceived as a short magazine article about oranges and orange juice, but the author kept encountering so much irresistible information that he eventually found that he had in fact written a book. It contains sketches of orange growers, orange botanists, orange pickers, orange packers, early settlers on Florida's Indian River, the first orange barons, modern concentrate makers, and a fascinating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida who may be the last of the individual orange barons. McPhee's astonishing book has an almost narrative progression, is immensely readable, and is frequently amusing. 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 great orangeries of European monarchs to a custom of people in the modern Caribbean who split oranges and clean floors with them, one half in each hand.
“Fascinating. A sterling example of what a fresh point of view, a clear style, a sense of humor and diligent investigation can do to reveal the inherent interest in something as taken-for-granted as your morning orange juice.” —Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
“It is a delicious book, in a word, and more absorbing than many a novel.” —Roderick Cook, Harper's