The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

by Richard Preston
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Overview

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston

Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the largest and tallest organisms the world has ever sustained–the coast redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens. Ninety-six percent of the ancient redwood forests have been destroyed by logging, but the untouched fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods have trunks up to thirty feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air. Until recently, redwoods were thought to be virtually impossible to ascend, and the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, a world that is dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored.

The canopy voyagers are young–just college students when they start their quest–and they share a passion for these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that there’s nothing left to discover in North America), and they even make love in hammocks stretched between branches three hundred feet in the air.

The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers, hollowed out by fire, called “fire caves.” Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to one’s death.

Preston’s account of this amazing world, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction narrative. The author shares his protagonists’ passion for tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees–the story of the fate of the world’s most splendid forests and of the imperiled biosphere itself.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588366030
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/10/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 178,775
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Richard Preston is the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Demon in the Freezer, and the novel The Cobra Event. A writer for The New Yorker since 1985, Preston is the only nondoctor to have received the Centers for Disease Control’s Champion of Prevention Award. He also holds an award from the American Institute of Physics. Preston lives outside of New York City.
www.richardpreston.net


From the Hardcover edition.

Hometown:

Hopewell, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

August 5, 1954

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Education:

B.A., Pomona College, 1976; Ph.D. in English, Princeton University, 1983

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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Combining the splendor of nature with the magic of his mechanical pen, the Richard Preston has written a book filled with thrilling adventure and charming anecdotes. Written in mellifluous prose with exceptional clarity, parts of the book read like a meditative literary novel. And some parts read like a horror novel also, full of scary situations. This book will make you shake your head with awe, and fill your heart with a renewed respect for all living things in nature. With the publication of The Wild Trees, Richard Preston has added one more magical book of nonfiction to the impressive list of books he has written. This book, an exploration of the miniature world of the giant sequoia redwood trees of northern California, will imprint on your mind an indelible picture of the bounteous nature. These gentle behemoths, the largest and tallest living things on our planet, the ¿blue whales of land¿, are awe-inspiring indeed. But they are also fragile, says the author. The largest of these trees has a thirty feet wide trunk, and it is more than three hundred fifty feet tall. The author explores the world of these wild trees with the help of Steve Sillett and Marie Antoine, a couple, both of them botanists, and Michael Taylor, a son of a wealthy real estate developer, and a small group of botanists and amateur naturalists. This book will open your eyes to the grandeur of these trees. And it will show you the small world of insects, mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders and other small animals, ferns and plants and bushes such as huckleberry and even small trees, all living and thriving on the branches and trunks of these giant sequoia trees. Exploring the canopy of these wild trees is an arduous task indeed to climb a tree one must carry a heavy load of very long ropes and climbing gear. The author took lessons in climbing a tree at a tree-climbing school in Atlanta. While we can all rejoice that quite a few of these sequoias are allowed to live for now in Northern California and also a couple of other parts of our country, we should always remember that ninety-six percent of the ancient redwood trees have been felled by the logging industry. What are left, writes Richard Preston, are '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.' I wish to say a few words about the lovely cover of this book. At one time or another, all lovers of books have heard the refrain: Don¿t judge a book by its cover. Occasionally, however, there appears a book with a jacket so gorgeous and befitting that it not only mirrors honestly the book¿s content, but also imparts the book with a soothing shelf-appeal, just as a lovely landscape imparts a house curb-appeal. Read this book to experience the joy of reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books ever! These wonderful old trees are amazing. Theres a whole world unto its self up in the canope! I love this book and have reccomended it over and over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put down this book. The characters are real people, their explorations are amazing, and their toughts about ecology and our planet are very relevant. Read the book before the redwoods disappear. Reads like the best mystery fiction!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just graduated college as a landscape architect. i learned about trees 'on the east coast' and began to have a passion for them. After reading this, I want to go to the North West and experience all these humungus trees myself. The book also clarified some plant physiology I 'learned' in school. The author did a great job of getting the reader into the story as well as the beauty of untouched nature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful story about much more than trees. The author weaves a tale of discovery that ventures into nature and the human soul. The description of the trees and the makeup of the canopies is fascinating. The stories of the lives of those told by the author are very good as well. A very good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Treeclan Camp!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just can't get past the first few chapters. Hoping it gets better, but just way too descriptive and boring for me, so far. I've been reading other books, in between, to break the monotony. Sorry!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good,,, You will want to climb after you finish reading
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pooleside More than 1 year ago
Richard Preston is one of THE best science writers and Wild Trees is another winner. It's obvious there's been elaborate research, proven as he writes about cutting-edge discoveries regarding the upper canopy. But it's not all science! He weaves compelling human stories throughout that keep you turning pages. This book encouraged me to make a trip to Northern California and see the redwoods for myself.
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