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on 20 February 2014
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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on 14 February 2014
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). I have no doubt that if there had been an aboriginal claim and the aborigines had taken exception to her plans there would have been the mother and father of all court battles.

I don't know if she has a view on global warming but she appears to make many return trips between England and Australia, while berating the people who mine the aluminium to make the planes.

She's a clever lady, and right about so much. Yet she makes enemies through her sheer lack of self knowledge.

This is a flawed book but there is enough of worth in it to justify buying it. It is also a physically well designed and appealing volume, particularly the jacket design.
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on 3 February 2014
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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on 4 March 2014
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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on 4 March 2014
I heard some of the readings of an abridged version of this book on Radio 4 and thought it worthwhile to read the book, but the abridged version was better to listen to than the full book was to read Germaine Greer is trying to make some important and serious points, but her writing style is not so accessible. She uses a strange and rather false dialogue style to present detailed botanical and ethnographic information and it doesn't quite work. Also the lack of photographs detracts greatly from the book; we have to rely on her detailed botanical descriptions of leaves etc. rather than seeing the photos of the items she is describing. Overall I think this is a missed opportunity to communicate an important message to a wider audience and help to build a movement to support the rehabilitation of temperate rainforests.
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on 26 November 2015
Bought this book for somebody travelling to Australia to see offspring on a long flight but if it is Germaine it will be very well written, I am confident of that much. The longing to return to roots and leave something worthwhile behind, is a very strong impulse in humans. I hope to get to read it myself soon!
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on 6 March 2016
A thoughtful, extremely well considered and written book; as one would expect. Anyone interested in ecology or the natural world will find this extremely interesting and informative. Well worth a read.
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on 14 April 2014
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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on 31 December 2014
A totally engrossing account of her attempt to redress a little of our devastation of the natural world, written with her usual wit and panache.
Also, a beautifully presented book, with an astonishing binding!
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on 17 June 2014
I think some readers might not enjoy the detailed history of the degradation of the natural environment of Australia, there's an unexpected amount of plant names and stories of the botanists that discovered them and maybe the writing isn't the greatest but really who cares about that as the subject is so interesting. Personally, I loved every bit of it and could hear Germaine's familiar, unique voice throughout, sometimes laughing, sometimes righteously angry and always incisive. This hopeful tale of a patch of Rain Forest being brought back from the brink is not romantic but it is heartening and makes me want to contribute in some small way to protecting our fantastic natural world. Read and enjoy.
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