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Beechcombings: The narratives of trees [Paperback]

Richard Mabey
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Sep 2008

In 1987, the greatest English storm for three centuries laid flat fifteen million trees across southern England and devastated a nation of tree-lovers. The storm marked a turning point in our perception of trees and a dawning realisation that they have lives of their own, beyond the roles and images we press on them.

In Beechcombings Richard Mabey traces the long history of the beech tree throughout Europe, writing about the bluebells, orchids, fungi, deer and badgers associated with them, the narratives we tell about trees and the images we make of them. It is an engrossing, exciting, poetical and profound book that will stimulate debate about man's relationship with nature and enchant the reader.

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Beechcombings: The narratives of trees + Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844139204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844139200
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Mabey is a naturalist and award-winning author and journalist. He won wide acclaim on the publication of the original Food for Free in 1972 - which has never been out of print since - and again with the publication of the colour edition in 1989. Among his many other acclaimed publications are Gilbert White (Whitbread Biography of the Year) and the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize. He collaborated with Mark Cocker on Birds Britannica, and his book Nature Cure, described as 'a brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir', was shortlisted for four prestigious prizes: the Whitbread Biography, the J.R. Ackerley for autobiography, Mind (for its investigation into depression) and the Ondaatje for the evocation of the spirit of place. He is an active member of national and local conservation groups and lives in Norfolk.

Product Description


"Wonderfully subversive, far-reaching and unsentimental" (Observer)

"Richard Mabey is a man for all seasons, most regions and every kind of landscape" (Andrew Motion Financial Times)

"Beechcombings is a treasure trove of fact and anecdote linked to the beech tree... By the time you have reached the end of the book you will have accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the uses and merits of different timbers and you will have an extensive list of locations to visit. A welcome present" (Michael Heseltine Spectator)

"The latest book from the doyen of our nature writers employs a key critical concept of recent decades to explore how we really see the natural word - with fascinating results... a terrific combination of both natural and intellectual history, informed by penetrating insight" (Independent)

"Like the woodlands itself, Beechcombings operates on many levels... Busting out is a leaf-storm of philosophical musings, journeys of mind and body, reflections and anecdotes that imprint the tree on human culture" (Sunday Times)


`It's a scientific, historical, poetic account written in a quietly humorous, thoughtful style'

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mabey back on form - great joy! 20 April 2008
After the somewhat vague meanderings of Nature Cure, Richard Mabey pulls of a brilliant book that is both a pleasure to read and a real education without ever feeling heavy. The use of language is once again a triumph in evoking the feel and splendour of our beech woodlands. My only real gripes are that whilst the book is a much better and structured read the ending does seem to come about rather suddenly and that my favourite rural author, H. J. Massingham, is dismissed as 'romantic'. Well there's nothing wrong with being romantic and you have to place your mindset at the time when Massingham was writing. But we digress. All in all a thoroughly good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book worthy of beeches 22 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had heard about Mabey for years as a prince among nature writers, and finally got around to reading some of his books. If like me you are obsessed by trees, especially beeches, then this will make your heart sing.

Beechcombings is stuffed with fascinating facts about how beeches grow, live and die, their uses and diseases, the friendships they have nurtured and the landscapes they have enhanced. Half historian, half poet, Mabey has produced a book to carry with you on woodland walks, and to return to.
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16 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beechcombings 5 July 2009
By Jbooth
What a great book the beauty of the wildwood versus the influence made by man on our landscape the beautful trees created by coppicing and pollarding, the management of our wild places in history, the sadness of the landsape and habitat that is being destroyed discussed in great detail, Richard Maybe also writes in the BBC wildlife magazine I always read his article with great interest, this book is well worth buying.
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