A Journey Through Trees
By Roger Deakin
(Free Press, Paperback, 9781416595328, 416pp.)
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
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Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the "fifth element" -- as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls -- the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with trees.
Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes "coppicing" in Suffolk, swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and hunts bushplums with Aboriginal women in the outback. Along the way, he ferrets out the mysteries of woods, detailing the life stories of the timber beams composing his Elizabethan house and searching for the origin of the apple.
As the world's forests are whittled away, Deakin's sparkling prose evokes woodlands anarchic with life, rendering each tree as an individual, living being. At once a traveler's tale and a splendid work of natural history, Wildwood reveals, amid the world's marvelous diversity, that which is universal in human experience.
Roger Deakin, who died in August 2006, shortly after completing the manuscript for Wildwood, was a writer, broadcaster, and filmmaker. His previous book, Waterlog, recounts his swimming adventures and has been hailed as a classic of nature writing.
"...[Deakin is] a congenial traveling companion in an invigorating romp...His writing reflects that fresh and tentative spirit...contains nuggets of wood lore beyond its obvious uses for food, animal fodder and building material." -- The Washington Post
"...A rip-roaring yarn...To Deakin, trees represented life's possibilities for adventure, passion, freedom and prosperity...[An] ambling and inspired meditation on humanity's relationship with woods of all kinds..." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"...Deakin, a modern-day Thoreau, has an endearing affinity for the wildness of nature, and on page after page he brings to life the poetry of trees and finds beauty in a simpler, more agrarian lifestyle..." -- Wisconsin State Journal
"Roger Deakin is a latter-day Thoreau." -- Robert Macfarlane, author of The Wild Places
"Part Walden, part Road to Oxiana...this will hopefully bring Deakin to the attention of American readers who will find him a kindred spirit to Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"I have never read anything that better evokes the experience of wandering in woodland." -- The Independent
"Breathtaking" -- The Sunday Times
"A masterpiece which deserves to be read and reread." -- The Guardian
"An enchanting book, the prose is so alert and alive. Roger Deakin can be counted one of the greatest of all nature writers." -- The Mail on Sunday
"A work of immense charm and verbal brilliance." -- The Herald