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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring with the World's Last True Explorers [Paperback]

Richard Preston
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Aug 2008

When Steve Sillett was 19 years old, he free-climbed – with no safety equipment and no training – one of the tallest trees on earth, in the redwood forests of Prairie Creek, California. 30 storeys above the ground he glimpsed an undiscovered ecosystem, and his passion for that astonishing world would transform the rest of his life. Over the next twenty years, Sillett and a close group of friends charted this system, discovering mosses and lichen never seen before, and travelling among branches so densely interwoven they form incredible sky-high walkways.

There are only twenty people on earth who have climbed the world’s tallest trees and who know their location. In writing The Wild Trees, Richard Preston not only managed to gain access to this group, but began to climb these hidden giants himself, putting his life in danger in order to understand the powerful connection between the massive trees and the world’s last great explorers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141031905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141031903
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A fascinating adventure story (The Sunday Times )

Combines the thrill of exploration with the quirkiness of those who chose it as their lives' work (The New York Times )

Impressive … these amateurs were taking their lives into their hands every time (London Review of Books )

Invokes the spirit of Darwin, Audubon and Jacques Cousteau (Washington Post )

About the Author

In writing and researching The Wild Trees Richard Preston mastered the complex techniques of climbing wild trees himself, techniques that are known by only 20 people in the world. In September 2006 he made the first ascent and measurement of the newly-discovered world’s tallest tree, Hyperion, in a rain-forest valley in Northern California. He has also climbed in the tallest forest canopy in Australia, the so-called “Skeleton Forest” on the Hume Plateau, Victoria, and in Scotland. He also climbs with his children, wife and parents in the trees near their home. His goal is to reveal people and realms that nobody has ever imagined.

Richard Preston, as well as climbing trees, 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 non-doctor to have received the Centers for Disease Control's Champion of Prevention Award. He also holds an award from the American Institute of Physics and there is an asteroid the size of lower Manhattan named in his honour.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual travelogue/nature book hybrid 9 Oct 2008
There are areas of the world yet to be explored and the author and his colleagues have tapped into an interesting area here. Carefully negotiating the problems caused by the fact that their very interest in the fragile ecosystems to be found there may cause irreperable damage the author's love of this strange world shines through.

Highly (get it?) recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 5 May 2009
By Naomi
I received this book for christmas and was anxious to see if it lived up to my immediate excitement and high expectations. I can overwhelmingly say that it did, and I would recommend it to anyone as an excellent story although the amount of science and detail means that a passing interest in trees is definitely an advantage.
The book is written in such a way that you develop relationships with the characters as you would when reading a novel. This meant that when i finished the book and researched more about the scientists concerned, i was almost surprised to see photos of them, and it hit home that it was all true, these passionate explorers really did climb to the tops of trees 37 storeys up and discover an untold new world of both animal and plant life.
The book can be enjoyed on many levels; either as a scientific journey or a collection of personal ones, but hopefully somewhere in between the two. The writing is such that you conjure up vivid mental images whilst reading, and emotion is strong throughout the book.
One criticism would be that the threads of different people's stories seem rather bitty at first, with many names to remember, but it becomes a more cohesive tale as you read on. So although The Wild Trees is now one of my favourite books, I gave it only 4 stars because there will undeniably be a little too much science for some readers. However for tree lovers this book is a must. I found myself quoting unbelievable facts to friends and family, and having finished it, I regard the trees around me (albeit slightly smaller ones than those in the book) with a new compassion and respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Trees and wild 19 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book soooo much , i only wish I lived nearer the redwood national park. Again , I must give book depository five stars for rescuing this highly ignored book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK.. but didn't hold me gripped 5 Dec 2012
By Gavin S
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting and enlightening.
I wasn't sure of the slightly "adventure novel" style at first but got used to it.
Took longer to finish than I thought.
Although interesting.. I had to kinda of force myself to maintain interest at times.. not so much the subject.. more the style. I think I prefer my sciencey books .. slightly more sciencey.
Some absolutely fascinating facts though.
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