A Story of Passion and Daring
On Sale: April 10, 2007
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Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in
Northern California are the largest and tallest organisms
the world has ever sustained -- the coast redwood trees,
Sequoia sempervirens. Ninety-six percent of the ancient
redwood forests have been destroyed by logging, but the
untouched fragments that remain are among the great wonders
of nature. The biggest redwoods have trunks up to thirty
feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories above
the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air.
Until recently, redwoods were thought to be virtually
impossible to ascend, and the canopy at the tops of these
majestic trees was undiscovered. In The Wild Trees, Richard
Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett,
Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and
amateur naturalists that found a lost world above
California, a world that is dangerous, hauntingly
beautiful, and unexplored.
The canopy voyagers are young -- just college students when
they start their quest -- and they share a passion for
these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing
personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they
ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that thereâ€™s
nothing left to discover in North America), and they even
make love in hammocks stretched between branches three
hundred feet in the air.
The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with
mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of
ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out
of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying
buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers,
hollowed out by fire, called "fire caves." Thick layers of
soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is
unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy
suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing
that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to oneâ€™s
Prestonâ€™s account of this amazing world, by turns
terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story
told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction
narrative. The author shares his protagonistsâ€™ passion for
tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree
climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees -- the story
of the fate of the worldâ€™s most splendid forests and of the
imperiled biosphere itself.
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