-- Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature's most magnificent networkers -- trees David Haskell's award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Read more...
-- Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature's most magnificent networkers -- trees David Haskell's award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, Haskell brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans. Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world to stop, listen, and look, exploring each tree's connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants, and demonstrating how the lives of trees and people are deeply interwoven. Several trees, including a balsam fir in Ontario and an Amazonian ceibo, are located in areas that seem mostly natural, but which are affected by industrial development and climate change. Haskell also turns to trees in places where humans seem to have subdued "nature" - a pear tree on a Manhattan sidewalk, an olive tree in Jerusalem - demonstrating that wildness permeates every location. We have much to learn from trees, says Haskell; they show us how to thrive and participate in nature's networks. Roots communicate with neighboring fungi and bacteria, sending chemical messages through the soil. Twigs have memories of light, gravity, heat and minerals. Plant cells in leaves use airborne odors to attract caterpillar-eating insects. Haskell pays particular attention to the sounds that emerge from or surround trees; behind each sound are fascinating stories of how tree lives are joined to other lives. With its deep understanding of the complexity of trees and the way they shape their ecosystems, Haskell's book will make you look at trees in an entirely new way.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-02-27
- Reviewer: Staff
In this inspiring but uneven account, Haskell (The Forest Unseen), professor of biology at Sewanee, investigates the myriad connections between trees and their natural surroundings. Trees do not exist in isolation, he notes, and though their trunks seemingly stand as detached individuals, their lives subvert this atomistic view. He devotes each of his 10 chapters (plus two interludes) to a particular tree, visiting Ecuador, Japan, and various points in North America. In Amazonian Ecuador, for example, Haskell calls attention to the ceibo tree, describing local hummingbirds, frogs, and monkeys before touching on oil-drilling camps now found in the rainforest. The heavy machinery cannot be ignored; half of Ecuadors export revenues and one third of the governments budget come from oil. Juxtaposing contrasting images of nature in urban landscapes, Haskell describes the worlds revolving around a cottonwood tree in Denver and a callery pear in Manhattan in lively chapters full of engaging digressions and meditations. But the chapters on a balsam fir in Ontario and maples in Tennessee and Illinois are harder to read, sometimes dazing readers with tangential and obscure references. Despite a few weak spots, Haskells study of interconnectedness reveals as much about humans as it does trees. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency. (Apr.)