David Hosack (1769-1835) was a celebrity in his day. He was the founder of the first botanical garden in the United States, an early adopter of new medical treatments, and a charismatic teacher and public speaker. American Eden is an exhaustively researched, brilliant and lively biography set in the close political, social and intellectual circles of the new Republic by professor of urban planning Victoria Johnson (Backstage at the Revolution).
Hosack is a genuinely interesting figure--talented, adventurous, hardworking and acquainted with many of the great minds of his day. Johnson amplifies his appeal by emphasizing his relationships with Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, as family physician and as collaborator in their gardens and botanical interests.
In New York, he became an admired professor, founded one of the first U.S. medical journals, promoted effective new medical treatments and championed the Hudson River School of painting. The botanic garden he founded was funded mostly out of his own pocket in what is now midtown Manhattan, modeled on the medical research gardens he had visited overseas. Hosack and his students also ignited a national craze for botany that still echoes in the public parks and private gardens of the United States. Johnson's storytelling skills and her thorough knowledge of the period and the science makes this a book that will appeal to history lovers, botanists and gardeners alike. --Sara Catterall