"Although often overlooked, Roland Harper was a significant botanist, and this biography brings him the attention he deserves. In this thoroughly researched study, Shores makes an important contribution, illuminating much about botany in the Southeast, ecology, eugenics, and the history of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. This book should appeal to botanists, historians of science, and many general readers."
—Lester D. Stephens, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Georgia
Incorporating a wealth of detail about Harper's interests, accomplishments, and influences, Shores follows his entire scientific career, which was anchored by a thirty-five-year stint with the Alabama Geological Survey. Shores looks at Harper's collaboration with his brother Francis, as they traced William Bartram's route through Alabama and the Florida panhandle and as Francis edited the Naturalist Edition of The Travels of William Bartram. She reveals Roland's acquaintance with some of the most important, and sometimes controversial, scientists of his day, including Nathaniel Britton, Hugo de Vries, and Charles Davenport. Shores also explores Harper's personal relationships and the cluster of personality traits that sparked his interest in genetic predestination and other concepts of the eugenics movement.
Roland Harper described dozens of plant species and varieties, published hundreds of scientific papers, and made notable contributions to geography and geology. In addition to explaining Harper's eminence among southeastern naturalists, this story spans fundamental shifts in the biological sciences-from an emphasis on field observation to a new focus on life at the molecular level, and from the dawn of evolutionary theory to the modern synthesis to sociobiology.
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