Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston

The Wild Trees is an incredibly interesting book. I had heard a couple of interviews on NPR and TV. It amazes me that this book is not more widely known – so far, no appearance on any best seller lists I follow.
I had absolutely no idea that giant trees (redwoods, douglas firs, and mountain ash [found in Australia]) were anything more than, well, giant trees. The men and women of this book who explore the largest living organisms on earth are brave individuals. The danger of climbing a 350 foot tree with only a thin line between them and death by “cratering” is described in exciting detail.
If the book has any flaws, it contains some facts that are explained as if the reader were completely unfamiliar with some basic scientific terms. For example, on page 24, Preston writes, “Lichens (sounds like ‘liken’) is a fungus growing in association with a species of alga…” Maybe this will not annoy the average reader, but I think anyone who would be interested in Wild Trees would have at least some rudimentary background knowledge. I don’t mean this happens on every page, but it did happen often enough for me to notice. 4-1/2 stars
--Chiron, 7/22/07

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