Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings

Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings

by Valerie Trouet


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What if the stories of trees and people are more closely linked than we ever imagined?

One of Science News' "Favorite Books of 2020," Winner of the Jan Wolkers Prize by the World Wildlife Fund, Named an April 2020 "New and Noteworthy" Book by The New York Times, Named a Woodland Book of the Year for 2020

Children around the world know that to tell how old a tree is, you count its rings. Few people, however, know that research into tree rings has also made amazing contributions to our understanding of Earth's climate history and its influences on human civilization over the past 2,000 years. In her captivating new book, Tree Story, Valerie Trouet reveals how the seemingly simple and relatively familiar concept of counting tree rings has inspired far-reaching scientific breakthroughs that illuminate the complex interactions between nature and people.

Trouet, a leading tree-ring scientist, takes us out into the field, from remote African villages to radioactive Russian forests, offering readers an insider's look at tree-ring research, a discipline formally known as dendrochronology. Tracing her own professional journey while exploring dendrochronology's history and applications, Trouet describes the basics of how tell-tale tree cores are collected and dated with ring-by-ring precision, explaining the unexpected and momentous insights we've gained from the resulting samples.

Blending popular science, travelogue, and cultural history, Tree Story highlights exciting findings of tree-ring research, including the fate of lost pirate treasure, successful strategies for surviving California wildfire, the secret to Genghis Khan's victories, the connection between Egyptian pharaohs and volcanoes, and even the role of olives in the fall of Rome. These fascinating tales are deftly woven together to show us how dendrochronology sheds light on global climate dynamics and uncovers the clear links between humans and our leafy neighbors. Trouet delights us with her dedication to the tangible appeal of studying trees, a discipline that has taken her to austere and beautiful landscapes around the globe and has enabled scientists to solve long-pondered mysteries of Earth and its human inhabitants.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421437774
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 04/21/2020
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 87,329
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Valerie Trouet is a professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Trees in the Desert
Chapter 2. I Count the Rings Down in Africa
Chapter 3. Adonis, Methusaleh, and Prometheus
Chapter 4. And the Tree Was Happy
Chapter 5. The Messiah, the Plague, and Shipwrecks under the City
Chapter 6. The Hockey Stick Poster Child
Chapter 7. Wind of Change
Chapter 8. Winter Is Coming
Chapter 9. Three Tree-Ring Scientists Walk into a Bar
Chapter 10. Ghosts, Orphans, and Extraterrestrials
Chapter 11. Disintegration, or The Fall of Rome
Chapter 12. It's the End of the World as We Know It
Chapter 13. Once upon a Time in the West
Chapter 14. Will the Wind Ever Remember?
Chapter 15. After the Gold Rush
Chapter 16. The Forest for the Trees
List of Tree Species
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What People are Saying About This

Neil Pederson

"A witty and engaging book that brings the story of tree rings to a wider audience."

Dagomar Degroot

"As Valerie Trouet explains in this beautifully written book, one of the best ways to understand the magnitude of today's climate crisis is to burrow into the bark of old trees. Trouet eloquently guides readers through this exciting science, revealing not only how science is done but also how scientists think, how they respond to moments of inspiration and disappointment, and how their careers may unfold in surprising ways. This book is a timely love letter to a discipline and to the academic way of life."

Erika Wise

"Beautifully captures the balance between science and engaging narrative. There are no similar books that tell the exciting story of dendrochronology."

Amy Hessl

"Perfect for scientifically curious readers, Tree Story is a fascinating book about a field that has made major contributions to our understanding of past societies, as well as our current climate predicament."

Paul J. Krusic

"Extolling the virtues of dendrochronology as a laudable tool for unlocking the secrets of natural and human history, this refreshing book will interest anyone who wants to understand the meaning of their existence, the miracle of life, and the beautiful ways in which our natural history has brought humans to our current state of civilization."

Sarah Boon

"Trouet is at her best when recounting field experiences or telling stories about fortuitous discoveries in the lab. Readers worldwide who enjoy popular science and its links to human history will enjoy this book."

Henry F. Diaz

"Trouet does a splendid job of elucidating the connections between dendrochronology (the precise dating of tree rings to the calendar year when they were formed) and advances in climatology, hydrology, archaeology, ecology, and history. A significant contribution and overview of dendro-science writ large. Engagingly written; the scholarship is highly commendable."

Lisa J. Graumlich

"For anyone who has been intrigued by the growth rings in a tree stump, this book is for you. Dr. Trouet, a renowned scholar, weaves together science and adventure as she unlocks the many secrets hidden in the hearts of trees."

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