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A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization
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A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  31 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Until the ascendancy of fossil fuels, wood has been the principal fuel and building material from the dawn of civilization. Its abundance or scarcity greatly shaped, as A Forest Journey ably relates, the culture, demographics, economy, internal and external politics, and technology of successive societies over the millennia.

The book's comprehensive coverage of the major ro
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 20th 2005 by Countryman Press (first published 1989)
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Richard Reese
Mar 23, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing
Once upon a time, at the dawn of civilization, the planet’s forests were in peak condition, in terms of their age, range, and health. Wildlife was thriving. Modern lads and lasses would not believe their eyes if they could dream their way back to 10,000 BC and observe the stunning abundance of birds, fish, and wild grazing animals — and the absence of cities.

Sadly, on a dark and stormy night, some wise guys figured out how to smelt ore and forge ax heads, and things have been going downhill ever
What a perplexing discovery I made with regards to this book. Such that I don't know what to think/do now. I heard of this book as it was made mention of in an online course through Princeton on Literature and the Environment. It served as background for a kind of environmental history of forests. Further, I read in an online review that it was deemed one of Harvard's top 100 books in 2004. These prestigious references aside, I decided that I would listen to a podcast interview from 2006 (near w ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it
Recommended to Adam by: Derrick Jensen (Strangely Like War bibliography)
John Perlin's "A Forest Journey" gets a bit tiring after a while. It seems a lot like he just strung together every source he could find regarding the riches that a civilization with lots of forest resources can accumulate, and subsequently the keen lack felt when deforestation destroys those resources, and finally the external impacts felt as deforestation causes floods, droughts, and soil erosion. Because of the paucity of early sources and the great abundance of later sources, the book is hea ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book tracks society's (and societies) reliance on wood for industrial development. Starting with slim, but early, references in Mesopotamia, societies developed, conquered and dispersed with the fortunes of the forest (and their mismanagement of the same). In the Mediterranean, forests or their decimation, were key in wealth and war, treaties and trade. Even in early Rome, people were able to observe the ecological impacts of deforestation and recognize the connection to soil erosion and so ...more
Peter Bundy
Feb 19, 2015 Peter Bundy rated it it was amazing
A wonderful look backward in time...
Informative, well-researched, and delightful for those
interested in the critical role of wood in past civilizations.
Nov 08, 2011 Tomek rated it it was ok
A Forest Journey is an interesting expose of how the rise and fall of civilizations can be attributed to how they treat the environment upon which they depend. Perlin goes into great detail explaining examples of past civilizations relation to forests. This detail can become tedious at times. It doesn't take long to get a sense of the general trend. The numerous anecdotes become repetitive and not altogether interesting. My biggest qualm is that the entire book is focused on Europe and North Ame ...more
Sep 22, 2008 Renee is currently reading it
This is really interesting - especially if you are a big history buff. Going through all the Old World civilizations like Mesopotamia, The Bronze Age, Mycenaean Greece, etc... had been rough. But the take home message from each group is - when the forests are destroyed, the civilization collapses. Looking forward to getting to more "modern" times.
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