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Carlsen (Readera's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual) gives a solid history of wood as he travels the world, analyzing the vast number of uses of a mundane natural resource. In doing so, Carlsen also uncovers the wide variety of personalities that work with wood every day, from the chainsaw artist appropriately named the "Wild Mountain Man" to the blind cabinetmaker who "can see things with [his] fingers that you may not see with your eyes." He uncovers places where wood golf clubs are still manufactured today; explains which type of wood is best for a baseball bat; takes readers through the painstaking process used to make the beautiful Stradivarius violins and Steinway grand pianos; he also demonstrates how the gondola is a "floating work of efficiency and ergonomic art." At one point, Carlsen visits a company in Maine that produces 50 billion toothpicks and 12 billion wooden matches each year. Carlsen includes photographs throughout this engaging and exhaustively researched work. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.