Coconuts have been around for longer than Homo sapiens; they have been turned into art, taken part in religious rituals and been a sign of wealth and success. They have saved lives, not only by providing nourishment, but also as part of the charcoal filers in First World War gas masks. It was coconuts that triggered the mutiny on the Bounty, and coconuts that saved the life of the man who went on to become the 35th President of the United States.
The coconut has long been the unseen player in the endeavours of industrialists and bomb makers, physicians and silversmiths, smugglers and snake charmers. To this day, coconuts shape the lives of people around the world. At a time when coconut products crowd the shelves of supermarkets, health food shops and beauty salons, Robin Laurance looks beyond the oils and health drinks to uncover the unexpected, often surprising, and vital roles played by the coconut palm and its nut in times past and present.