The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees
In The Forest Unseen, his award-winning book that chronicled a year spent observing a one-square-meter patch of old growth forest, David Haskell won acclaim for his ability to engage deeply with and write eloquently about the natural world. Now, in The Songs of Trees, he brings his intense powers of observation to the intricate biological networks that surround a dozen different trees around the world, examining humanity’s place within these networks.
Haskell’s unique entryway into these topics is the sounds that emerge from trees and echo within their wood. These sounds tell the stories of the communities in which trees live. He listens to trees in places affected by urbanization, climate change, human conflict, land conservation, and resource extraction – from a fir tree in Canada, a palm on the Georgia coast, and a ceibo in the Amazon to a fossilized redwood in the Rocky Mountains, a bonsai from Hiroshima, a pear tree in Manhattan, and an olive tree growing near one of Jerusalem’s gates.
Haskell returned to each tree many times to sit and listen, to attend to the sounds that reveal biological and ethical harmonies and discords, the songs of place. He learned that trees never sing alone. Although they seemingly stand as detached individuals, trees, Haskell posits, are made from relationship; their being emerges from conversation among dozens of seemingly separate species. Humans are part of these conversations too, so listening to trees gives us a new way to hear our own nature, and to understand what it means to live within a world undergoing profound ecological change.
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From the Hardcover edition.