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White Beech: The Rainforest Years Hardcover – 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st Edition edition (2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408846713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408846711
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 3.4 x 16.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


An eco-love letter about saving and reviving trees on her farm in Australia (The Times)

A powerful account of Greer's attempt to reverse the calamitous environmental impact of Australian history on one patch of land ... Greer remains a winning, funny, indomitable figure throughout, and it is fascinating to follow her as she works through so much of her messy, complicated relationship with Australia (Evie Wyld, Financial Times)

A beautifully written book . Simple, effective descriptions of everything from pythons to pademelons, filled with telling detail, and no little amount of love and respect (Independent on Sunday)

We love: White Beech ... Her new book is written not by a passionate young feminist but by a woman in her seventies who has lost none of her energy to speak out for causes ... I am sure listeners will find her love of her motherland, and for her sister, both touching and revealing (Psychologies)

In 2001, the 62-year-old Greer took on the "irresistible" challenge of rehabilitating 60 hectares of a dairy farm in south-east Queensland, which after a century of logging, clearing and downright devastation had been abandoned to its fate. Seduced in particular by the few remaining white beech trees, this is her memoir both of this extraordinary project, and of her love affair with the forest and her native Australia (Bookseller)

Searching for somewhere to archive her papers, in 2001, Germaine Greer was taken to an abandoned dairy farm in Queensland. White Beech: The Rainforest Years tells the story of her decade-long battle to rehabilitate the damaged forest of white beeches and other trees she found there. Working with her sister, a botanist, she puts all her remarkable passion and a lot of money into the project (Conde Nast Traveller)

An extraordinary travelogue: a love letter to Germaine Greer's birth country and an intense biography of the land (Catholic Herald)

A hymn to botany as a discipline and a vehicle of heritage ... Even when she's lyrical, her botany is rigorous (New Statesman)

Wonderfully vivid descriptions of the forest ... The book is full of lovely lists of the wildlife that has returned (Eithne Farry, Sunday Express)

Passionate and eccentric... A lifetime of activism, bloody-mindedness, academic punctiliousness, men-baiting and solidarity has produced a wonderfully unexpected book (Sunday Times)

A splendid love letter to the recipient of her affections ... Beautifully crafted descriptions that dot the book like jewels (Observer)

There is nothing touchy-feely about Germaine Greer's vision of perfection ... It is a love affair with nature the real, nature as battleground, beautiful in its violence (Evening Standard)

Greer is a talented wordsmith and her vivid descriptions transport readers into a habitat that thrums with noise and movement and life ... White Beech is a book to be read, considered and discussed (Geographical)

She has thrown as much intelligence and energy into her blessed plot as into this lively, loving, rollicking account of her ecological adventure (Saga)

Never doubt Greer's brilliant power of language. White Beech drips with lavish, sensual, technically demanding words, used uncompromisingly ... as maverick and unyielding as its author ... poetic and moving (The Times)

Greer is as enraptured and as protective as a lover when describing the richness of the rainforest (Guardian)

Wonderfully idiosyncratic . I loved it. It's a tale of a fabulous obsession, and it is maddeningly brilliant (Sunday Telegraph)

I love her, even when she says mad things (India Knight, Red)

Germaine Greer in one of the cornerstones of feminism and she has a sense of humour, which I think is absolutely essential (Jo Brand, Red)

I can't overstate the impact that Greer's work has had on my own writing. Her weaving together of personal narrative, pop culture analysis and rigorous academic scholarship has been tremendously influential (Naomi Wolf, Red)

Germaine is a one-off. I haven't always agreed with her but she has consistently fought for women. We owe her a tremendous amount. Best of all, she never cares about being popular. She's fearless (Janet Street-Porter, Red)

Germaine Greer helped ignite the touchpaper of women's liberation. She's an intellectual force, often great fun, and a firecracker - whose sparks fly in many, sometimes unpredictable, directions (Kirsty Wark, Red)

A much-anticipated memoir ... four decades after her controversial ideas first started shaking things up, she is still going strong ... few thinkers have had such an impact on women's lives (Viv Groskop, Red)

A book of passionate didactic energy about her quest for regeneration, personal, national and global ... Exquisite ... A rather marvellous book (Spectator)

Gender politics warrior Germaine Greer has, somewhat surprisingly, penned a tender account of her time in the Australian rainforest (National Geographic Traveller)

Dense, angry and scintillating . An extraordinary blend of exhaustive nature notes, assiduous scholarship and biting polemic (Western Mail)

Her story makes the reader think deeply about what humans mean by 'civilisation'. Greer, now 75, is a force of nature and among its most erudite defenders (Independent)

A dense, angry and scintillating exploration of Australian history, botany, zoology and politics, an extraordinary blend of exhaustive nature notes, assiduous scholarship and biting polemic ... One is left breathless with admiration for this extraordinary thinker, writer and doer trying to change the world (Irish Examiner)

Wonderfully scathing ... Her excitement about the flora and fauna she encounters too is contagious (Lucy Ellmann, Herald)

Fans of the earlier Greer will be fascinated by her tender, sometimes hilarious accounts of their sexual behaviour, and note with amusement the consideration she displays towards the males (Irish Times)

As a botanist I did not expect the best book on rainforest restoration to have been written by Germaine Greer, but this is what she has done here (Times Literary Supplement)

Remarkable ... Not so much a rainforest repair manual as a scholarly tale leavened by its great readability and many entertaining digressions (Oldie)

This wonderfully idiosyncratic book is taken up with the documentation of Greer's Cave Creek Rainforest Rehabilitation Scheme in Queensland, Australia (Daily Telegraph Summer Reading)

Greer remains almost as outrageously outspoken, and frequently as wickedly funny, as she was when she changed millions of lives with her feminist classic, The Female Eunuch, in 1970 (Irish Times 2015-09-05)

Book Description

A memoir of a love affair with the forest and her native Australia, White Beech is Germaine Greer's most personal book yet

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms Greer has a way of mischievously drawing the reader into a book that not only describes a White Beech in one page but spends the rest of the book contextualising said tree in a plethora of historical, scientific, political and geographical data and information one would hardly expect to find.
There is a strange relationship between the immigrant Australian population with its superficial European roots, prejudices, bigotry and naiviety, and the indigenous population with its history deep in the mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers creeks and especially rainforests in that the immigrant is denied access to the culture and mystery of the continent, and when the immigrant feels they have some intuitive understanding of Australia, becomes almost an apologist for trespassing on the sacred lands of the ancestors.
I have experienced this myself - my birth family are from the same area (and slightly north - up to Noosa and Bundeburg) but it wasn't until my elder sister visited UK and I took her to our own sacred sites - for example the Rollrights - that she really understood the aching in the Aboriginal heart.
Germaine misses this point, despite her many years in the UK ....but perhaps she has always over-intellectualises and leaves little to intuition?
However a fab read and lesson in the history etc of a few acres and one woman's attempt to make amends for our screwing-up of the magic land of Oz.
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The description of the work on the bit of rainforest she is rehabilitating is excellent. She deserves credit for taking a large financial risk and for putting in a great deal of effort, both in learning the botany and physically managing the forest. There is a lot of material on the origins of official botanical names, and the confusions created in part by empire building and unjustified attempts at claiming credit. In her effort to be thorough, the writing becomes, in some chapters, so clotted with detail that it almost lapses into list making. There are parts that are as a result well nigh unreadable.

She gives a decent historical overview of environmental degradation and the failure of farmers to understand what they are taking on. If you focus on what she is doing and why, and don't sweat over the names and claims of long dead botanists, you will have a good read.

But this is Germaine Greer and one cannot expect a temperate or balanced view. Below is a list of the things that most grated with me.

She snipes at others who put up notices threatening prosecution of those who remove plants from their land, yet puts up such notices herself. Her sister appears to have a career advising landowners on the maintenance of their properties in an environmentally sound way, and she has taught Germaine pretty much everything she knows about botany. Yet because she is not telling all her clients to just give the land back to the jungle, Germaine has the gall to doubt her sincerity and commitment.

She lapses into hippy speak at one point when she talks of the 'energy' in aboriginal sacred spaces. I almost fell off my chair laughing at her vain attempt to find the aboriginal owners of her land (spoiler - there never were any).
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I wouldn't ever have expected to be recommending a book by Germaine Greer, but this is really interesting. It is very well written, as one would expect, and hard to put down.

She tells the story of her time spent owning and revitalising a small area of rainforest in Australia.

Strongly recommended, not just to environmentalists, but as a general read.
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Germaine is as always a very vivid writer, I particularly liked the gentle irony of her introducing herself to a prospective vendor of the land she was lusting as 'Germaine' and the woman saying 'I hope you are nothing to do with that awful Germanine Greer woman.'

She is of course,but now we meet her alter ego,her sister,and Germaine being Germaine,she sets out to learn all she can from her sister about the mysteries of plant life after she realizes she has stumbled providentially on an ancient Gondwanaland rainforest artfully disguised as an abandoned cattle farm.

Germaine the academic insists on popping up in the book to give us lengthy digressional lectures on obscure plant derivations,
species, genii and the like,but mercifully we get back onto the narrative soon enough.

And the narrative is extraordinay in what it unfolds about the restorative abilities of the ancient rainforest once the strangling interlolpers from later eras are cleared out.

This is a wake-up call for all Australians about their true treasure, but as the film of Nick Roeg elegaically portrayed, they are too damned scared of the natural world to really appreciate they are in a nightmare of fear.
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I enjoyed the book on the wholel but there was too much information about the species etc. I thought it was going to be about how Germaine Greer set about reclaiming the forest. There was very little about this. I listened to excerpts from the book on Radio 4 and that is why I bought it. It seems that the best bits were read out and there was very little left apart from the scientific data.
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