In 1847 Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) embarked on an expedition to Sikkim in the eastern Himalaya, a region where he would discover a huge number of botanical treasures previously unknown to the West. A scientist of breath-taking ability, Hooker would go on to become one of the greatest botanists and explorers of the 19th century and is perhaps the greatest of the lauded Directors of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
In this fascinating travelogue, author Seamus O'Brien retraces Hooker's footsteps in Sikkim, bringing alive the adventure, dangers and discoveries that Hooker and his companions experienced in the mid- 19th century. Seamus describes how his drive for this expedition came from a yearning to see in the wild the plant discoveries made famous by Hooker, who described the region as `a perfect microcosm of the Himalaya.' Following in Hooker's footsteps, the author describes how these places compare to the descriptions made by Hooker 170 years previously, and how in many ways how little Sikkim has changed little over the course of time. Hooker was a highly skilled geographer and cartographer, and in Sikkim he created the first comprehensive map of the kingdom, highlighting mountain passes that would be of enormous strategic value in the decades to come. Some of these maps are reproduced in the book along with Hooker's original sketches of the region and plants, as well as illustrated throughout with stunning photographs by the author. This is a wonderful celebration of one of the greatest adventures by one of history's greatest scientists, and ideal for anyone with an interest in the flora and history of the region.