Although as couple of years after the first reported syntheses, and quite a bit longer than Nicolaou's route, Danishefsky's solution to the taxol problem features some very interesting chemistry to overcome unexpected obstacles. From the paper:
Some of the efforts are truly synthetic but in others aprecursor molecule found in nature is included. The key data arecollected below. What all strategies have in common is synthesis ofthe baccatin molecule followed by last stage addition of the tail,a process (except for one) based on the .
how to writea a synthesis paper
The actual first synthesis of taxol, albeit it as the unnatural antipode. Counting the number of steps for this route was particularly difficult as the origin of the starting material isn't obvious from reading the original papers. Although it's described as 'readily available', as far as I can tell no procedure for its preparation is given. An previously reported literature preparation by Büchi took 16 steps, and if this route was used then Holton could be a strong contender for the longest synthesis on record. Additionally, natural inexpensive (£0.26/g) (+)-camphor actually gave the wrong enantiomer of the natural product. In principle, (-)-camphor could be used to give the correct enantiomer, although it is far more costly (£10/g). I love the Chan rearrangement, which is the closest thing we're likely to get to a retro-Baeyer-Villager for some time... would you include one in your synthetic plan?