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With a scholarly voice leavened by poetic sensibility, Nadkarni (Rainforests) explores trees from root to canopy, tracing their powerful role in shaping human commerce, spirituality, even language-a fascinating section examines the preponderance of tree-based metaphors. The author, a renowned canopy biologist, pre-sents a wealth of entertaining arboreal facts and figures, but her personal anecdotes are the book's most compelling and inimitable feature: she describes a visit to a Baptist church where the pastor spoke of "the need to find an entity that will protect us... and hold us... when we are frightened" with "limbs that would support us forever, never tiring... helping us find quiet and calm in our lives." Nadkarni relates being so "amazed and pleased that the pastor would include a description of trees and their spiritual benefit in his sermon" that she didn't realize that he was talking about Jesus. Despite an occasional pedantic tone, the author's belief that "when humans become sufficiently aware of... a single tree, a forest fragment, or the whole biosphere, they will find ways to protect it" is inspiring and her enthusiasm, contagious. Photos. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.