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Extended Audio Sample The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, by Richard Preston Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,676 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Preston Narrator: Richard Preston Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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. The biggest redwoods are over a thousand years old, rising more than thirty-five stories in what’s left of the once vast ancient redwood forest. Believed to be impossible to ascend, these majestic giants have remained unexplored until recently, when a tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists discovered a lost, dangerous, and hauntingly beautiful world high above California.

In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of these young voyagers who risk everything to explore the redwood canopy, where the massive trees form flying buttresses and cathedral-like structures in the air. They find a vertical Eden of hanging gardens and rare creatures, an untouched paradise where it’s possible to stretch hammocks between tree branches and make love three hundred feet in the air. But as they move through the treetops suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, these young adventurers know that the smallest mistake can result in a plunge to one’s death.

Preston mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to recount the discovery of this amazing world—a grand adventure by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, from a master of nonfiction narrative.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An exciting book [that] combines the thrill of exploration with the quirkiness of those who choose it as their lives’ work.” 

    New York Times

  • “[Preston] is without rivals in his ability to relate complex biological system to a lay audience. Aside from the precious groves of redwoods, the stars of this narrative are Sillett and Taylor. Their methods of exploration may be unorthodox, but their reverence for our vanishing natural world is admirable and worth emulating.” 

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Intensely dramatic…The scientific story goes beyond the discovery of the tallest trees to the astonishing biology within their canopies.” 

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • “[The Wild Trees] is at its heart a science book, describing in accessible terms the wonders of this newly charted ecosystem…[Preston] draws sharp, often moving portraits of his cast of modern-day explorers.” 


  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rosemarie | 2/19/2014

    " A wonderful true story about the passion of the people who have discovered, and who work to understand and protect the tallest trees in the world. Focuses mainly on the magnificent redwoods of California. Narrative is a little dramatic, but the story and characters are very engaging. Made me fall in love with redwood trees some of which are 1500 years old and 25 stories tall! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tracy | 2/4/2014

    " Not as good as The Hot Zone, but still interesting despite a few dry parts. Definitely for botanists and tree climbers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Adrienne | 2/3/2014

    " Interesting info on how one can study a forest canopy 370 feet above the ground and including the fact that there are species undiscovered that live there! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Wendy | 1/14/2014

    " Reading this book under the tall trees themselves, during a week-long camping trip in the Redwoods, was perfect. Still, it's not a perfect book. There is some excellent material here, but Preston made some imperfect decisions on what to leave in, and I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of the ecology / science of the story. "

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