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A Natural History of North American Trees

4.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  59 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Donald Culross Peattie's two books about American trees were first published in the 1950s. In this beautiful new one-volume edition, modern readers are introduced to one of the best nature writers of the last century. More than one hundred of the original illustrations by Paul Landacre highlight the eloquent and entertaining accounts of American trees. As we read Peattie's ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published April 2nd 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Mark
May 28, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, sylva
Another book on trees, this time those in North America.

Compared to Colin Tudge's book The Tree (see my review), A Natural History of North American Trees has less science and more lore. Peattie lays out the story of America's long vanished primeval forests and describes uses the natives and Europeans had for the trees found in them. He includes a fair bit of detail on many of the species, especially the famous and important ones ones like redwood, white pine, douglas fir, etc, always outlining
...more
Nastassja
May 03, 2015 Nastassja rated it it was amazing
There are so many things I loved about this book. Published in 1953, the writing captures the essence of a time far away yet still close enough to touch through the breathtakingly beautiful prose that seems to have flowed effortlessly from the author's pen. I have always had an affinity for trees but this book made me love and appreciate them in a way that feels like a gift. This is also a sad book, for he often discusses the decimation of North America's primordial groves and the sense of loss ...more
Ted Dettweiler
I'm going to pick my way through this one-volume edition of Peattie's original 2 volumes on American trees that had been published in the 1950's.

I started today with a Waterloo County heritage tree (I believe I am correct in that) - the black walnut, en français, le noyer noir (black nut)ou noyer d'Amérique. My dad planted two or three black walnuts (fire off an email to see if Dad remembers where he got the saplings) along the fence line (where the fence had been) between where grandpas old smo
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James
Sep 08, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: distractions
This is a book, published in the 1950s, of history and naturalism and the usage and industry of trees. His narratives of individual species are strangely evocative, beautiful in their succinctness, and best of all, smart. About White Oak, he writes:

The British loftily shook their heads at American White Oak as far inferior to their own. Well, if the mother country would not take our White Oak, we would build our own ships of it...not good enough for the British Navy, they were just good enough
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Ross
Aug 02, 2010 Ross rated it it was amazing
Unlike soulless field guides, this marvelous work draws one deep into the cultural and historic aspects of the most prominent of the American trees. It's the difference between getting lost in a good historical narrative vs. cramming to memorize the list of facts presented as history in grade school.

Written some sixty years ago by the late, warmly brilliant Donald Culross Peattie (UChicago alumni, what what), these chapters are no more dated or less wonderful than the newly found contents of a f
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Loren
Jan 08, 2016 Loren rated it it was amazing
If I said a book describing trees made me cry, you'd think I'm crazy.

Well...this book describing trees made me cry, and you'll do the same. If you read one book on trees, read this one. Start with species you know and then explore. Each tree has its own beautiful, and occasionally tragic, narrative.

Every time I read a selection from this book I want to (1) write, (2) hike, and (3) do more...of everything. It's rare any book can inspire in so many ways.



Amanda
Oct 28, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Awesome! If you don't already love trees, you will after this. It is the best natural writing you can find. And the illustrations are just fantastic. It is so scientific in its information but you don't even realise you are reading non-fiction. You expect at any moment to have a talking redwood come around the corner and deliver the world's mysteries to your feet!
Lisa
Jul 10, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It wasn't thrilling because it isn't a novel or story in any way. It's like a text book about North American trees. But the way it is written is so beautiful, very essayistic and poetic. You begin to feel like all these trees are your long lost loved friends.
Matt
Nov 17, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
This book reminds me a lot of A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold--which is one of my favorite books. (They were written approximately contemporaneously). It is a bedside-type book where I read a few relaxing (and tree-trivia-filled) pages before falling asleep.
Jackie
Dec 04, 2007 Jackie rated it really liked it
super nifty. Full of interesting facts and broken up into short blurbs about each tree so you don't have to read the whole book at once.
E.E.
Oct 01, 2012 E.E. rated it it was amazing
This book is so good I can't even describe how good it is. Now if only I could remember all the information in it...
Tyger
Apr 18, 2009 Tyger rated it it was amazing
I you are looking for a book on trees. This is it. Good Illustrations and witty wonderful descriptions!
Leslie Allison
Oct 28, 2008 Leslie Allison is currently reading it
Lovely-lovely-lovely!
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Donald Culross Peattie was a U.S. botanist, naturalist and author. He was described by Joseph Wood Krutch as "perhaps the most widely read of all contemporary American nature writers" during his heyday. He was nature columnist for the The Washington Star from 1924 to 1935.
His nature writings are distinguished by a poetic and philosophical cast of mind and are scientifically scrupulous. His best kn
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