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Monday, 21 June 2021

Book Review - Trees of Life - Princeton University Press

 


     In recent years a good deal of attention has been paid to the E.O. Wilson concept of biophilia, of restoring an integrated relationship with nature,  particularly as it relates to trees. The spiritual and physical benefits of the ancient Japanese practice of forest bathing are widely advocated in the west. The promotion of the healing bond between humans and trees is being advocated by practitioners such as Julia Plevin and Diana Beresford-Kroeger with a proselytizing fervour that serves to increase devotional adherence and popularity.
     A comparison with religious observance is not unwarranted as ritual and ceremonial practices in the forest are advocated, and actual communion with trees is claimed by the staunchest of believers.
     As a naturalist who has spent his entire lifetime exploring forests and woodlands, I can vouch for the restorative aspects of trees, both physical and spiritual.
     Trees of Life, therefore, is a book for its time. Max Adams selects eighty species to celebrate the ancestral and contemporary connection between trees and humans. And I find it hard to argue with his choices. 
     The book is broken down into chapters, so that trees of different types are covered as a group. Permit me to give just a couple of examples: From Apple to Walnut: the fruit and nut bearers and Sugar and Spice: a cook's bounty.
     The text is succinct and informative, often with historical context, and the illustrations are nothing short of spectacular, from high quality modern photographs to reproductions of ancient lithographs and paintings. The book is at once a source of knowledge, a reflection on the state of the world's tree cover, and a visual delight. 
     It is critical when considering trees that one think not only of their utilitarian value, indeed not principally of their commercial uses, but their role in the maintenance of clean air, the provision of oxygen and as the repository of biodiversity. This is done in the final chapter, entitled Trees for the Planet.
     No one will read this book and come away unmoved. Much news is given to the destruction of ancient forests, especially rainforests both tropical and temperate, and the world needs to be concerned and rise up against this trend. 
     This may be the book that inspires political action to save the planet. I hope so!

Trees of Life - Princeton University Press
Author - Max Adams
Hardcover - US$29.95 - ISBN: 9780691212739
Publishing date: 2 March 2021
272 pages - 200+ colour plates and illustrations
8 x 11 inches (20 x 27.5 cm)

35 comments:

  1. The book's cover is appealing - and it was interesting to read! 
    Yes, this may be the book that inspires political action to save the planet. 

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  2. I know the name Max Adams from a number of books about history and archaeology. And I've seen the book "The Wisdom Of Trees" by Max Adams. I'd always assumed that they were two different people, but while looking up "Trees Of Life" online I find it's all the same person. What's more he's a musician too. I'll be adding "Trees Of Life" to my list of books to read.

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  3. Man essentially burns the planet, unfortunately...

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  4. I really, really hope that political action is taken soon. Yesterday even. But fear. And mourn.

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    1. And you have every right to those sentiments, Sue,

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  5. Sounds like a great read. I will have to see if it available here.

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  6. Looks like a fascinating and interesting book

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  7. Un livre qui me plairait. J'ai beaucoup de livres sur les arbres, le dernier que j'ai lu parle de la gestion des forêts mais sans couper les arbres, une autre façon de faire vivre et de vivre de sa forêt. Bonne soirée

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  8. Hari OM
    That cover alone would pull me in!!! YAM xx

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  9. The book's cover was very beautiful, and this must be a very interesting book to read, David.
    Yes, we must hope for a political action sooner than later. This plantet has fever, and needs a doctor!

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  10. Sounds a good book.

    All the best Jan

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  11. Excellent review of what sounds like a really excellent and important book.

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  12. Max Adams does have interesting titles in his book. Cover is so well illustrated. We have a rain tree in Taiping Lake Gardens that is at least 120 years old. I agree with you that more attention and action shd be done to save nature. I feel that the pandemic although it has been a scourge, it has cleared the skies and waters.

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  13. Sounds as if it could be a beautiful read.
    We are lucky here with our trees, though people are often and odds with each other - as long as they leaves our bush as it is.

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  14. Nice book. I love books too. The flamingo is from Germany .

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  15. A book worth reading. There are so many types of trees that I have not seen or know about.

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  16. This looks like it would be a beautiful gift book. I think no trees result in no people so it is definitely a book for this most critical of times.

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  17. Hi David - this looks delightful ... my SIL has a birthday soon - she's not the greatest reader ... preferring to spend her days outdoors with other pursuits - but I think this will suit her for many a reason - I'll check it out in Waterstones in town later on. Sounds wonderful - thanks for the excellent review - cheers Hilary

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    1. I've followed your suggestion (I was going to say orders - but probably not a good idea?!) and got one copy ... promptly ordered another for me! So lots of reading to get stuck into ... thank you! Cheers and enjoy the weekend - Hilary

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    2. Giving orders seldom works, and subtle persuasion is much more productive!

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  18. Great review David! The book's cover is beautiful. Our planet and the trees need saving, I hope something is done soon. Take care, enjoy your day!

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  19. I hope my local library will get a copy of this book, it looks interesting. Maybe I will ask them to buy it. I love the illustration on the cover. Currently I have another tree book out of the library, Trees of Canada by John Laird Farrar. It's so informative, I have learned so much about trees from this book.

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  20. This is interesting, David. You get to choose the most intriguing books -- it's clear how respected you are by publishers of the industry. I'm seeing a LOT of dead trees in northern Michigan this year -- it's very disturbing.

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    1. Thanks for that kind comment, Jeanie. The dead trees you are seeing may be the result of the terrible Gypsy Moth outbreak currently ravaging the forests.

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  21. What a great sounding book! Thank you for sharing this post about it. I've always had an affinity for saplings, but I'm not sure why. (Perhaps my parents instilled it in me, or perhaps it came naturally.) Trees (and plants) and the oxygen they give off is another part of the interconnectedness of everything on our precious planet.

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  22. Buenas tardes querido amigo David, un libro que espero sea traducido al español, estaré atento ya que me interesa y mucho.
    Recibe un fuerte abrazo de tu siempre amigo y compadre Juan.

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  23. Querido David veo que es un libro muy interesante y para tener en cuenta. Para mi el bosque tiene el poder de curar mi mente. Un enorme abrazo para ti y para Míriam.

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    1. Muchas gracias querida amiga Lola. Buen miercoles.

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  24. Another great book review! Thank you, David.

    I was looking for a birthday gift for my brother and this will be perfect. (And provides a great excuse to increase my reference library ...)

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  25. in some developing countries, people worship to tree for healing....

    the book sound good to read.... thank you for sharing your review

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  26. El libro se ve precioso, te digo como nuestro amigo Juan, espero que lo traduzcan en español. El pájaro de la portada es precioso. Abrazos.

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  27. The book looks beautiful.
    Seems like a good book to me.
    Greetings Irma

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