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The Man Who Climbs Trees

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  58 reviews
This is the story of a professional British tree climber, cameraman and adventurer, who has made a career out of travelling the world, filming wildlife for the BBC and climbing trees.

James’s climbs take him around the globe, scaling the most incredible and majestic trees in existence: the strangler fig tree of Borneo, the monolithic Congolese moabi tree, the fern-covered h
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 24th 2017 by WH Allen
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Clare O'Beara
As a tree surgeon, I'm rating this my favourite book of the year. The author shares with us some of his adventures while climbing trees, either for pleasure or while rigging cameras and filming for BBC and National Geographic.

These are no ordinary trees. The tale combines tree knowledge and mountaineering as James shoots a catapult - in extreme cases a crossbow - to carry a fishing line over the first branch, 170 ft in the air. The falling weighted line is then used to pull up a rope, nylon in
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book description is perfect, but it doesn't evoke the depth of the story. Aldred's adventures in the trees were incredible & he makes it clear how much & why he loves it. Climbing trees isn't for everyone, especially not in the environments where he's been. The sights he's seen, the dangers endured, & the mistakes he's made are fantastic.

The sights are great. I recognized several of the trees from other books. I've always been more interested in them from a woodworker's point of view, never
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
The Man Who Climbs Trees or as I like to call it "How much does nature hate James Aldred?" Two things blew my mind in this book, the scale of some of these trees and how many times James came close to being killed by wildlife. The scene with the bees was stunning, how he got out of that situation shows just how tough he was. I once got stung on the foot by a bee and was limping for ages, not sure how I would handle a swarm attacking me whilst dangling in a tree.

I loved how the book is laid out,
Peter Tillman
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it

Very good book, about, well, you guessed it. Aldred started climbing trees when he was 16, got good at it, started getting jobs as support crew for wildlife and travel documentaries, and has led an interesting life ever since. The review that led me to read the book was Jim's, -- so why don't you read that first, and I'll add some more tidbits from my notes. He is a fine storyteller, and has some great stories. And some horror-shows too, mostly involving
It has been a long while since I climbed a tree, but in my childhood, I spent a fair amount of time climbing and occasionally falling out of trees. There were one or two that were particularly good to climb or hide in and several that we tried and failed at. To reach the top of a small tree felt like an achievement, even though the heights weren't that high, it felt like you were on the top of the world. James Aldred began the same way, climbing trees in the New Forest until at the age of 17 he ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This would have been a fabulous book as a coffee-table-sized glossy photo book with images to enhance the stories behind them. But as a pure text book - well, there are only so many times you can read the story of how someone climbed a tree (unless you're a tree surgeon or arborist, in which case you'll probably find the author's stories fascinating).
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I climbed my first big tree with ropes when I was sixteen. The intervening years have raced past in a tangle of branches and foliage, and I must have climbed enough trees to fill an entire forest by now. But although many have blurred together, there are others that rise above the fog of memory.”

James Aldred is a professional British tree climber and cameraman, who has worked for the BBC and National Geographic. He is also a heck of a writer and storyteller. As he take the reader around the wor
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Library Biography #31

I feel most people have fond memories of being a child and climbing trees. Or maybe attempting to climb trees. When I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the library, something about it spoke to me - I couldn't resist it.

James Aldred takes us all over the world to different jungles and forests, describing his adventures climbing trees along the way. Aldred is able to create such imagery in his descriptions that one cannot help but feel right there in the branches with him.
Ian Smith
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE MAN WHO CLIMBS TREES by James Aldred A Penguin Book
Review by Ian Smith
Here is a man who works as a freelance cameraman for no less organizations than National Geographic and BBC, including Sir David Attenborough. Wow, couldn’t wait to open it and see the pictures…oh, there aren’t any. My disappointment slowly waned however, the more I got into the book. By the time I was half way I couldn’t have cared less.
Some of the descriptive phrases and selection of adjectives had me drooling; here was
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful book from someone who is passionate about trees, the animals who live in them, and their forests.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was a delight to read The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred. It is not only full of information but also beautifully written and absolutely fascinating. If you have ever wondered how wildlife/nature books are filmed this book has the answers.

James Aldred, a professional tree climber, wildlife cameraman, and adventurer, explains how he discovered that trees are places of refuge as well as providing unique vantage points to view the world. Trees enthral him, right from the time he first clim
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, environment
James Aldred was a wildlife cameraman for the BBC and National Geographic. He spent his working life high up in trees filming the lives of wild animals and birds.

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."--Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

In chapter one, he describes climbing a tree called Goliath in England. I never thought of a giant tree in England. Humans have a way of destroying all living big things.

In chapter two, he climbs a tree in the Borneo rain forest. They call it "tumparak
I’m not at all fond of stinging insects. Or heights. Or humidity. James Aldred didn’t change my mind about such things, but he sure made me glad that they aren’t problems for him! That said, if you are squeamish, be warned.

From the time he was a boy, Aldred was fascinated with trees. In his teens he began climbing trees with his friends near his home in England. There was a particular tree, a giant sequoia no less, that was his favorite. In the New Forest, his tree, Goliath, began life in 1859.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a charming little read, detailing some of the most memorable experiences author James Aldred has had climbing trees across his personal and professional life. As one might expect given the rather specific subject matter there is a fair amount of repetition here, with most of the 10 chapters taking a highly formulaic route. Focusing on a particular tree or area in which Aldred was working as a cameraman/rigger for the likes of the BBC or National Geographic, Aldred gives a bit of backgro ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, nature
The Man Who Climbs Trees is a wild, woolly, wonderful memoir by a professional wildlife photographer and avid tree lover. James Aldred loves trees in a much different way than most tree lovers, though; he likes to climb them; live in them; sleep in them; view the world like a bird, or one of the many other creatures that spend most or all of their lives in trees. I never tired of the author's descriptions of sunrises and sunsets, of the wind, rain and lightning, and of all the birds and animals ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The love and draw to the lofty trees and ascending them could not allow me to experience the wonder for the dangers and uncomfortable personal encounters real or imagined.
The descriptions of the views from the top of the canopies stimulate my imagination but the bugs and natural elements to overcome left me holding my breath.
A great adventure of gigantic trees and remote , wild places in the world was a fascinating memoir.
written in a flowing ,descriptive manor that takes one into their own fa
Sam Law
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most of us have happy childhood memories of trees, being in them, picnics around them, taking shelter from a storm under them, and occasionally and not so happily falling out of them.

Read More Book Reviews at It's Good To Read

Over time, and especially with the increasing urban-centric way of living, we can lose sight of trees, as they become a backdrop to our ever-hurrying existence. There are relatively few old trees in city centres, for example. Do children climb trees anymore?


Hester Maree
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The notion of someone climbing, sleeping and relaxing for days in the topmost branches of the world’s tallest trees had me reading, hands clammy, for the first few chapters of this amazing book. This is just what James Aldred has been doing since he was a teenager, through rain, heat, thunderstorms and gale force winds.
Alongside the challenges posed by snakes, spiders, stinging wasps, African honey bees, orangutans and eagles he has managed to make a living scaling forest giants of up to 350 fe
Elli (Kindig Blog)
The Man who Climbs Trees is an interesting look at the life of tree-climber James Aldred who has worked for the BBC, climbing trees in forests throughout the world.

I enjoyed the book a lot more than I initially thought I would; it’s very well written with beautiful imagery and interesting stories. Although his words do a good job of firing up your imagination, I was a little disappointed that there are no pictures which would have been good to look at, even on my black and white kindle. A few ph
Douglas Summers-Stay
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Any job that involves doing things I did for fun growing up: building with Legos, designing Transformers, writing books, swordfighting, etc... is fun for me to read about. This guy climbs trees-- really tall trees, all over the world. He brings a hammock and spends days up there photographing the wildlife for National Geographic. He gets into all kinds of trouble with wildlife and insects and weather, but keeps doing it because he loves it so much. He's just the kind of guy you'd want to do it t ...more
C. Black
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely delightful, inspiring, thrilling. Beautifully descriptive writing transports you into the trees with Aldred. Whether he’s dripping with sweat in the jungle, admiring or trying to evade wildlife or experiencing a totally zen moment of peace and serenity a couple of hundred feet off the ground - you are there. This would be particularly wonderful to read on a camping trip, if you are so inclined that way. Personally, I hate camping, but I loved this book! It’s such a fascinating account ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred.

This is a simple book unadulterated by stylistic twiddles or literary device. It is a love letter to trees and the natural world as a whole. These are the stories of the monster trees that James climbs to prepare the way for and assist National History filmmakers get the very best vantage points for their programmes.

James endures weather and even insect infestation of his very flesh to climb these dangerous trees so that masters of Natural History such as
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who among us has not picked up a copy of National Geographic magazine or watched BBC adventures and marveled at the up-close-and-personal photos of birds and bees and beasts? James Aldred takes us on a spectacular journey into trees 200 and more feet above the earth, where a whole new focus exists. A magical place where he can observe the world without the world even knowing that he is there.

How does he ascend to such heights? Well, it's a little like mountain climbing, or rock climbing. Ropes
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love, love, love this book! James Aldred earns his living by climbing trees. He works in nature documentaries including as a cameraman. I love his awe and wonder at the giant trees, the animals and the view below. He survives massive thunderstorms that threaten to topple the tree, forgets his water bottle and gets dehydrated to the point of hallucinating, gets stung by a swarm of bees and nearly passes out, digs out botflies from below his skin with tweezers one by one (I was grimacing while lis ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book! I was so inspired by the author's story, but most especially by his passion about, and respect for, the trees that have been such an important part of his life since he was a young boy. Several full-color pictures show various projects he's been a part of, and they give some idea of the immensity and height of said trees. One photo, of his "bed" slung high in the branches, gave me butterflies just at the thought of trying to crawl into and out of his so-called hammock, which look ...more
Cindy Cox Sherman
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. His lifestyle is so unbelievably different from mine and is quite fascinating. If you enjoy reading about nature, and have ever wondered about people who climb the monstrous trees in the rain forests etc. this is definitely for you. If you are at all squeamish about bugs and other creepy or very large things that live in the jungles, then just prepare yourself for a bit of squirming! He shares a lot of information about trees, plants, animals and indigenous tribes alo ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Thanks to marketing and publishing/Stephanie Buschardt for sending me this advanced reading copy on goodreads. Part travel to exotic locations while introducing local cultures and environmental issues. James Aldred kept up interesting facts on the trees and types he seems to enjoy being around and climbing. That he is able to make his living doing what he most enjoys is a plus and it shows in his writing. A very enlightening and interesting read.
Julian Walker
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely fascinating and engaging insight into wildlife photography, following your heart and, of course, climbing trees. A life less ordinary, lived to the max.

Packed with stories about wildlife encounters (mainly quite dangerous and, at times, life threatening) and unusual job opportunities, this is a great book for anyone looking for something a bit different to read.

Part homage to nature, part inspirational guidance - this was a real gem to discover and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dan Carey
Entertaining stories, well told. There's nothing particularly profound or scientifically novel about this book. But it does not suffer for that lack. Aldred, like the best story tellers, knows which details to dwell on and which to gloss over in order to keep the story interesting. I have put this in my planning-to-reread shelf, a good indicator that it may yet earn 5 stars.
[Audiobook note: The narrator, Samuel Roukin, is fantastic.]
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was so looking forward to reading this book, but it was not as interesting nor as captivating as I thought it would be. Relatively I thought there could have been more written on climbing the trees themselves, more narrative on the trees versus about the trees. I felt more attention was placed on describing the natural world that the trees existed in, which certainly should not be left out, but to me this was the bulk of the book.
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James Aldred is an EMMY award-winning cameraman, adventurer and professional tree climber who has made a career out of travelling the world, filming wildlife for the BBC and climbing trees

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