... replete with heartbreak, endless drama and even an unlikely love affair ... Amber Waves nimbly segues into a socio-agro primer, providing a crash course in genetics, plant breeding and agronomy. The author, a professor in the college of agriculture at Montana State University, also provides a fascinating retrospective on some of our lesser-known food innovators ... At times, Amber Waves waxes a bit scholarly, delving more deeply into DNA, genomic sequencing and transposons, for instance, than the casual reader might appreciate. But the story always reverts to engaging form, and Ms. Zabinksi is a reliably optimistic guide, pointing us toward a hopeful food future.
An abundance of endnotes and references indicate an extensively researched text, while the chronological narrative reads like a biography starting with ancient people and cultivation through the modern practices of manipulating food DNA ... This work will appeal to lay scientists, anthropologists, and consumers who wish to know more about the science behind this common dietary staple.
... a pleasant but cluttered account of the long history of humans and wheat ... she shares some worthwhile historical tidbits ... However, on the whole, her historical analysis is overly generalized, especially alongside off-puttingly involved and complex technical and scientific discussions, such as of the workings of photosynthesis, or of different farming techniques—irrigation, crop rotations, and use of fertilizers and pesticides. Nonspecialists will have a hard time sifting through this scattered collection of wheat-related topics.