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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  6,930 ratings  ·  1,114 reviews
From the #1 bestselling author of The Hot Zone comes an amazing account of scientific and spiritual passion for the tallest trees in the world, the startling biosystem of Rthe canopy, S and those who are committed to the preservation of this astonishing and largely unknown world.
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published August 23rd 2007 by Random House (NY) (first published January 1st 2007)
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Flora Adams You might be thinking of The Overstory, by Richard Powers. He introduces 8 (?) different, unrelated characters, with each revolving around a different…moreYou might be thinking of The Overstory, by Richard Powers. He introduces 8 (?) different, unrelated characters, with each revolving around a different species of tree. I haven't gotten to the point where he brings the characters together.

Powers is an outstanding writer, able to create distinctive characters, each with a compelling story.

I think it's on the best-seller list as I write this. 12/19.(less)

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Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Preston looks at the very tallest trees on our planet and the people who seek them out, climb them and study them. This was a very engaging trip into a very unfamiliar territory. One amazing thing was that knowledge of the whereabouts of earth’s wooden giants is held by a very few individuals. The people on whom Preston reports range from Phd biologists to obsessives with no particular scientific background. He looks closely at tree-climbing methodologies (being a tree-climber himself) and at th ...more
Oct 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Botanists and lichens
The idea that there is an entire unexplored world lurking in the canopy of what's left of our nation's redwood forests is intriguing. It seems unfathomable that in our modern life, with all our GPS systems and Google maps, there are still areas of planet Earth just waiting to be explored.

The Wild Trees is at its best when describing this hidden world. Sadly, that's not what the book is about. This is really a story about the people involved in the exploration of that world, with a few interestin
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, animals
Climbing Widow Makers

When I was a child I loved climbing into our apricot and French plum trees. Climbing was fun, eating the fruit was better. My dog Rex would sit under the plum tree waiting for me to give him some fruit. Yes, a dog eating plums.

But I grew out of the desire to climb trees after my preteen years,
while the botanists and other men and women in this book continued to climb, sometimes to their deaths.

This book is about finding the tallest tree in the redwoods, but why they had to
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The sections about the redwoods in this book were 5 star for me--but then, trees have always fascinated me, and Preston brings his intense focus on detail to these giants.

However, the sections on the PEOPLE in this book moved it down to a 2 star for me, since FAR too much time was spent on the soap opera details of their lives rather than on the trees themselves. And their lives seemed self-centered and crass.

Stephen Sillett is the first holder of the endowed Chair in Redwood Forest Ecology at
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book about Redwood trees. These trees exist along the coast of northern California and southern Oregon, they need fog, but not the salt so they are somewhat inland. The tallest one is named Hyperion 379.7 feet (115.7 m) tall and about 600 years old. It is fascinating that it was only discovered in 2006! These trees can live to 2000 years and has been around for over 240 million years!
Kerri Anne
This book. I adore this book. Mostly because I adore talking about, learning about, geeking out about trees. Any trees. But especially redwood trees. And this book is fantastic in its breadth and scope and coverage of the history of studying the redwoods, and all the stops and starts and madness therein. Did I know there was an entire subset of people who spend (and have spent) their days climbing redwoods, and Doug Firs, and countless other species of trees? Not really. I really had no idea the ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I am of two minds about this book. When Preston is giving us the impressions of actually climbing into these gigantic trees, I am transported to a world where new species abound high above earth in ecosystems "similar to the ocean's coral reefs."

When he is lecturing us or creating the tension of personal relationships, I find myself more conscious of his prose --- his lack of fluidity and attempts at a compelling style. The "story of passion and daring," promised in the title, comes through but
M. D.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens and Adults
The book was good enough to get me to explore deeper into the dense Jedediah Smith Redwoods and find the Titans myself. Read the book early January, and found the Grove of Titans and Lost Monarch on January 15, 2008.

See > M.D. Vaden's hunt for The Wild Trees Redwoods

Unlike the book, I supplied one color photo of a titan. That's one desire for that book, which was lacking. If even but one nice color photograph.

There was more in the book than I expected about people, but after I read it, it was un
Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
This isn't a book for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast paced(although somewhat tedious at times) book. It is a window into the lives of those whose passion is climbing trees, and not just any trees - the tallest trees in the world, the coastal Redwoods of northern CA.

The cover caught my eye and then as I read the jacket, I knew I had to read it, as the setting is near where I grew up. The book is the story - over about a twenty year period - o
Misty Wilson read.fine.print
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t read nonfiction. I’m not interested in trees. I can’t remember the last time I climbed a tree or even THOUGHT about a tree and I’m not really very interested in botany or even science, yet I really liked this book called The Wild Trees by Richard Preston.

This is a book about trees, but it is fascinating because the author tells the stories of the quirky, fearless people that study them, beginning in the 1970s to present day. Whole other worlds exist at the top of these gigantic Redwoods
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don't think this was a bad book per say. I think that many would actually enjoy the method of story telling, but for several reasons - it just did not work for me. I love nature writing generally, and find giant trees endlessly fascinating, but this dealt much less with the biology and nature of them and it focused on the stories of some dudes that climbed and studied them. I found much of it and their stories quite boring outside of the actual climbing. If I want to read about someone bagging ...more
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was the most fascinating read I've had in a long time. I loved learning about the old-growth forests of the northwest (which I previously knew nothing about). I loved learning about the science behind forest ecology (which I knew nothing about). I felt inspired by the people who developed ways to climb these giant trees and figured out that there's a whole world up there to explore. In short, I felt like I really learned a lot and enjoyed it too! ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book would have been near-perfect if it had cut off the last few chapters... I thought the author went off on a tangent writing about himself and his own tree-climbing. The first 3/4 of the book were amazingly educational, and I relished reading through the chapters.
Matthew Stocek
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once you get past Richard Preston’s somewhat long, pedantic and oftentimes unnecessary explanatory writing, there’s a fascinating story here about the world’s largest trees and the scientists and eccentrics who spent their lives studying them.
Wendy Kiang-Spray
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm planning a trip to see the California redwoods and wanted to read a good book that would get me excited for the experience. The Wild Trees was an excellent blend of stories of interesting people and their connections to nature/trees and facts about redwoods (like their amazing canopies) that I'll be happy to share with my family as we're hiking through the forests. ...more
tammy west
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A “must read!!!”

It was A suspenseful pageturner for me,
iCouldn’t put it down and have sung its glories,
ever since, and will continue to rave about
it at every opportunity!!!

If iHad thE ability to enforce this, i’D mAke it A rEquired rEading bEfore anyone is ever allowed to chop trees down, or to so much as cut A single branch
off of one!
Liam || Books 'n Beards
This wasn't what I expected! I admit I didn't read the blurb very closely, and I thought it was more about the ecology of the giant redwoods. As it turns out, it was kind of a biography-by-proxy of a number of different 'tall tree hunters', and Steve Sillett in particular.

It was entertaining, but not exactly what I was after - my favourite parts were when it DID dip into ecology, the interesting environments that develop within the crowns of redwoods and so on, rather than all the touchy feely p
Aaron Koelker
Went into this blind after it was given to me as a gift. A pretty interesting adventure that'll make you want to strap on your boots and wander off into woods; to explore or study something that's not necessarily mundane, but overlooked or unappreciated. ...more
Ashley Lehman
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was truly sad when this book ended...I wanted more. A great mix of information about the trees themselves (fascinating) and the stories of the people who explored their canopies (equally gripping). Inspirational to say the least. Other wordly at times. It just made me want to be up in a tree - I'll be taking a course in branch walking as soon as I can!! An excellent read! ...more
Glenn Roberts
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Who are these daring individuals? A fun and interesting account of those who climb redwoods and other tall trees for fun and fame. I had a friend plant a eucalyptus tree and ten years later he was surprised to see it towering over his yard. Now I know why that was. And many other things I don't really need to know, but enjoyed climbing though them. ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Two hundred and fifty feet up, the light became brighter, although I still couldn't see the sky, and the crown of Adventure billowed into a riot of living branches. By then, the ground had disappeared completely, hidden below decks of foliage in the lower parts of the canopy. This was the deep canopy -- a world between the ground and the sky, an intermediary realm, neither fully solid nor purely air, an ever-changing scaffold joining heaven and earth, ruled by the forces of gravity, wind, fire, ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Think the trees you see on the tours of Redwood National Forest are the granddaddies of them all? Guess again.

A really interesting look at the group of tree-groupies (arborists, naturalists, botanists, and so on) who dedicate themselves to identifying, documenting and preserving the Giant Redwoods and other behemoth trees. The story gets a bit hokey when Preston starts recounting the personal lives and relationships of and between his characters. It seems like quite a detour, is unnecessary and
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature-nonfic
Preston was very involved and present throughout this book, so much so I'm not sure if I would classify it as nature memoir rather than narrative nonfiction. His presence added information about the feeling of climbing a giant tree, so I'm not condemning it. The focus of this book was rather more on the interesting people who become obsessed with redwoods and slightly less on the trees themselves. Donald Culross Peattie has probably ruined me for anyone else. Preston's an involving writer, thoug ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Starting the year off with a book that's going to be hard to top! ;)
This is the story of obsession: men and women who eke out a living, if they're lucky (and socially presentable enough) in the botany departments of Pacific Northwest colleges and universities. But their true calling lies 350-feet-plus above the ground mapping the landscapes of coastal redwoods. The discoverers of these trees have the privilege of naming them, usually for characters in mythology or Tolkien; but not always, as in
Dorianne Laux
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: booksread
A page turner. This non-fiction book reads like a novel. I couldn't wait to go to bed every night to see what had happened while I was away. I've since read Richard Preston's The Hot Zone and am currently reading The Cobra Event. He loves orinary people who do extraordinary things. There's an excerpt from The Wild Trees in the latest issue of Orion, along with one of my poems, and I'm so pleased and honored to be anywhere near this guy.
Andrea Jakious
Dec 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
If I could give this book 0 stars, I would. Fascinating topic, interesting people, terrible, disjointed writing. At first I thought this book was slightly better than a textbook on redwoods. Now I think I would have preferred a textbook.
Bob Peru
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: tiffany
i. like. to. climb. trees.
always have. i had the mos' bitchin' treehouse EVER. me n' my bud chip. built it ourselves. way up. way way up. we were 9 and 10. swiis family robinson stylee. for real.
Neil R. Coulter
One of my students recommended this book to me, and it seemed like the right time to read it. My youngest son and I just finished watching a documentary series about the national parks, so with the words of John Muir and other parks advocates fresh in my mind, I opened up The Wild Trees to venture into the redwoods (vicariously) once more.

Richard Preston’s book is unlike any other book I’ve read. It’s a mix of scientific information, history, and the personal lives of the people who made the imp
This book is mainly about tree climbers. Well, one could say it’s also about canopy science, perhaps the early days. Certainly the beginning of canopy science of Redwood Trees. (I have to use upper case for them, I love Redwood Trees.)

Much of the book talks about several different people, but not how they connect, or at least not in the first part of the book. These people turn out to help develop science about some of the oldest, and largest living organisms on earth. The beginning parts of the
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Wild Trees 3 50 Nov 09, 2012 11:00PM  

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Richard Preston is a journalist and nonfiction writer.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

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“Time has a different quality in a forest, a different kind of flow. Time moves in circles, and events are linked, even if it's not obvious that they are linked. Events in a forest occur with precision in the flow of tree time, like the motions of an endless dance. (p. 12)” 16 likes
“Botanists have a tradition of never revealing the exact location of a rare plant. Contact between humans and rare plants is generally risky for the plants. Many of the giant trees I describe in this book, as well as the groves they inhabit, have only recently been discovered, and in some cases have been seen by fewer than a dozen people, including myself. To honor the tradition of botany, I won’t reveal the exact locations of giant trees or groves if these locations have not been previously published. If a tree’s location has been published, or if the tree is no longer alive, then I will give its location.” 1 likes
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