Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World

A History


By William Alexander

Read by Paul Bellantoni

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 7, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

New York Times bestselling author William Alexander takes readers on the surprisingly twisty journey of the beloved tomato in this fascinating and erudite microhistory.

The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Lost in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato has become the avatar for our disaffection with industrial foods — while becoming the most popular vegetable in America (and, in fact, the world). Each summer, tomato festivals crop up across the country; the Heinz ketchup bottle, instantly recognizable, has earned a spot in the Smithsonian; and now the tomato is redefining the very nature of farming, moving from fields into climate-controlled mega-greenhouses the size of New England villages. 

Supported by meticulous research and told in a lively, accessible voice, Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World seamlessly weaves travel, history, humor, and a little adventure (and misadventure) to follow the tomato's trail through history. A fascinating story complete with heroes, con artists, conquistadors, and—no surprise—the Mafia, this book is a mouth-watering, informative, and entertaining guide to the food that has captured our hearts for generations.

  • “From the man who grew us The $64 Tomato, William Alexander is back in the garden…as well as in pizzerias in Naples (Italy), a ketchup factory, the local Pizza Hut, large-scale tomatoes farms in Naples (Florida), and the farmers markets where heirloom tomatoes are having their day in the sun, again. Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World is a fascinating and funny tell-all tale of how ten tomatoes are shaping our lives in unusual, unexpected, and (in some cases) very delicious directions.”
    David Lebovitz, author of Drinking French and My Paris Kitchen
  • “William Alexander has written an entertaining, broad-ranging history of the tomato, in a conversational, humorous style that uses tomatoes to explore history -- from the Aztecs to Italian cuisine and pizza -- along with the introduction of fascinating characters, issues such as climate change and hydroponics, heirloom mania, and the search for flavor in a world of GMOs and factory farming.”
    Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds and For God, Country and Coca-Cola
  • “William Alexander is a delightful guide on this whirlwind tour of the tomato's influence on global cuisine and culture. His trademark blend of history, botany, memoir and travelogue make Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World a captivating--and appetizing--read for gardeners and cooks alike.”
    Amy Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist
  • "[A]n engaging look at the humble fruit. . . Eccentric, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable."
    Kirkus Reviews

    “Highly readable… Mr. Alexander presents himself as an apprentice, but the reader quickly discovers he is also a master teacher."
    Wall Street Journal on Flirting with French
  • "Alexander's breathless, witty memoir is a joy to read. It's equal parts fact and fun.” 
    Boston Globe on 52 Loaves
  • “[Alexander’s] bright writing highlights a pleasing variety of comical misadventures... Entertaining and educative."
    Kirkus Reviews on 52 Loaves
  • "Serious, irreverent, funny and informative at the same time."
    Jacques Pépin on 52 Loaves
  • “Engaging, well-paced and informative."
    New York Times on The $64 Tomato
  • “[A] disarmingly witty take on horticulture…consistently funny."
    Washington Post on The $64 Tomato
  • “Alexander's slightly poisoned paradise manages to impart an existential lesson on the interconnectedness of nature and the fine line between nurturing and killing.” 
    Publishers Weekly on The $64 Tomato

On Sale
Jun 7, 2022
Hachette Audio

William Alexander Author Photo

William Alexander

About the Author

William Alexander won the National Book Award for his debut novel, Goblin Secrets, as well as the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. Other honors include the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, and a Cybils Award finalist. Like the protagonist of his books Nomad and Ambassador, William is the son of a Latino immigrant to the US. He teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and lives in Vermont. Visit him online at WillAlex.net.

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