Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Wild Trees

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Richard Preston

Quotation: “In all, close to 96% of the primeval redwood forest was cut down.  What is left of the virgin redwood forest is like a few fragments of stained glass from a rose window in a cathedral, after the rest of the window has been smashed and swept away.” (CD2)

Sentences like this one broke my heart. How arrogant we have been! How much we have destroyed that can never be recreated.  This book is about redwoods (mostly) and the people who climb them, study them, love them.  In a John McPhee kind of way, Preston combines fascinating facts with detailed portrayals of this special group of people: Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, Michael Taylor, and others whose lives revolve around the tallest trees on the planet. The parts about the people are really interesting, but they pale next to the parts about the redwoods themselves and the ecosystems that were discovered in the redwood canopy, which had been assumed to be “just branches” by people who had never been up to see what was there (Sillett was the first to ascend into the top of a redwood).  For example, we don’t even know what the natural lifespan of a redwood tree is.  They appear to keep living and growing until something (a storm, loggers) brings them down.  Trees grow out of trees (like clones), which grow out of trees…. Even the wood does not rot. It’s as if they are immortal (until we destroy them to make picnic tables or cutting boards like the one in my kitchen).

I’ve already returned this CD book to the public library (after listening to it twice), so I can’t check on who the narrator was, but the CD books that are listed on list Preston himself as the narrator.  If that is so, I can’t figure out why he says Steve SilLETT on the audiobook but Steve SILLett in his talk on  These guys are supposed to be friends! Surely Sillett pronounces his name in only one way, and Preston should know what that way is! But that is a minor complaint about a wonderful book. Read it!

Here is a link to the TED talk.

The page for this book, with reviews and an excerpt from Chapter 1, is here.


One Response to “The Wild Trees”

  1. […] you like trees, you will love the book The Wild Trees by Richard […]

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