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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring with the World's Last True Explorers Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

9 customer reviews

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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: 12.4 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 810,263 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.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Naomi on 5 May 2009
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 9 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Preston writes in one of the most relevant genres for the 21st century, narrative nonfiction. It's a form of writing often characterised by intense, long-term immersion in a field followed by reportage that takes the shape of an extended narrative, with journalistic attention to detail, research and fact-checking. Done well, and Preston does do it well, this approach brings extra drama and warmth to the realms of nonfiction.

Not that this tale of the "world's last true explorers" needs any help in that department; on the contrary, for those interested in trees this is already as good as it gets. The book centres around a very small group of people who, for one reason or another, became instrumental in the location and exploration of the world's tallest trees. The stars of the show are the Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) which are now confined to pockets along the north coast of California and at their most impressive reach over 350 feet in height. Perhaps of even greater importance are the ecosystems these magnificent trees support: a rich and complex mixture of flora and fauna that thrive within the aerial canopies of these colossal "beings".

One of the most interesting aspects of narrative nonfiction is that the author often explores the background and characters of the men and women they're writing about; it allows the reader the chance to come to know the individuals and what motivates them. Integrating this "personal" story isn't easy when working with nonfiction, particularly when the subject is a scientific exploration, and perhaps at times the flow of the work is interrupted by this.
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By Amazon Customer on 31 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book looking for a good divulgative book on gigantic trees and those who climb them, not only the science of trees (that surely is beyond my scope) but a wider picture of the meaning of those trees, their future under climatic change, human presure, their history...

This book tries to do that, but somehow the writer sometimes tarries too long in the personal background of the climbers and some other times too little, but the wonderful structure of the tree ecosystem doesn't come into full view. Thus, the climbing stories stretch a long while, without really a meangingul event in them. This is wonderful if you like climbing, but that is not my case, for me the trees are the reason for the book.

Maybe this is a hard criticism, but somehow I couldn't see this book as an enthralling history. My models are Thor Heyerdahl's chronicles of his journeys (although his science was not very accurate), but it seems that his model is not followed.
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By Yayabee on 3 May 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a tree climber with a distinct interest in tall trees, this was a natural choice for me, and it didn't disappoint! Written with a good balance between drama and science, I very much enjoyed my time within its pages. Professionals may find some descriptions of kit and technique a touch frustrating, but for anyone not in the industry, looking for some insight into these giants and how they're explored, it's full of great tales, information and anecdotes.
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