Book of the Week: ‘The Wild Trees: A Story of Daring and Passion’

The Wild Trees: A Story of Daring and Passion

Richard Preston

2007, 294 pages


Richard Preston delivers a captivating story about some of the oldest living (some predating the fall of Rome) and largest organisms (in some instances over 350 feet high) on the planet. Described as “the dreadnaughts of trees, the blue whales of the plant kingdom,” the coastal redwood trees in Northern California harbor their own ecosystems in their canopies. These mysterious worlds were undiscovered until the 1980s when people finally began ascending the giant trees.

As if the trees weren’t fascinating enough, Preston explores these “oceans in the sky” through a cast of bewitched characters. Botanist Steve Sillet becomes a pioneer of redwood climbing after an intense redwood free-climbing experience as a youth. He eventually marries Canadian botanist Marie Antoine, and they explore the forests together using innovative aerial techniques. Redwood enthusiast Michael Taylor drifts away from his wealthy family to hunt for the largest tree on the planet while exploring previously undiscovered groves. The transfixed explorers are as haunting and complex as the trees.

This is one of my favorite books to recommend to nature lovers and those that like to read about science and exploration.

Mathew Bose

Concord Public Library

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Author: Insider Staff

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