Dan Torre is a Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He is an avid grower and collector of cacti.
Cacti's diverse appearance and survival tactics have made them not just the focus of gardeners and photographers from desert to tropical regions, they have inspired sculptors, painters, filmmakers, and writers, and been used by cooks (think dragon fruit), and for their therapeutic qualities such as pain relief and antibacterial properties. The prickly pear was even revered by early civilizations such as the Aztecs. All this, just for a cactus? Look and learn with this entertaining book that uncovers the rich natural, cultural, and social history of a plant with attitude. --Reader's Digest This delightful series is accessible and worthwhile for general readers who are interested in plants, history, or art. Covering the history of human interaction with cacti and especially cactus-inspired art, this work is a fascinating ingress into all things cacti. . . . This work will appeal to a broad range of readers. . . . Highly recommended. --Choice A wide-ranging social and cultural history of cacti that champions a family of plants usually neglected by gardeners. . . . The book is learned and well-researched but always easy to read and full of fascinating anecdotes. . . . For anyone interested in the world of plants it will certainly provide an engaging insight into a fascinating group of plants. It might even stimulate a few gardeners to add a few cacti to their plot. --Gardens Illustrated Torre's book also looks at cacti in art, literature, linguistic phrases, and popular culture. There are cactus fences, cactus medicines, and cactus societies. For a family of plants that has, at times, been widely loathed, it has managed to permeate every aspect of our lives. --The Age (Australia) This fascinating title puts the horticultural specifics of the Cactaceae family in the spotlight, and explores their social and cultural impacts on society. . . . The worldwide popularity of cacti is well documented in these pages through interesting commentary and images. --Gardening Australia Gardeners spend much of the summer biding their time. A shelfful of handsome new books will tide them over. . . . [In Cactus, ] celebrate cacti through art, literature, and culture. --Better Homes and Gardens