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Enduring Roots: Encounters with Trees,…
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Enduring Roots: Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape

by Gayle Brandow Samuels

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 081352721X, Hardcover)

If there is a middle ground between wilderness and civilization, a place where nature and humankind can be reconciled, historian Gayle Samuels suggests, it is to be found in an orchard. "Orchards," she writes, "combine the seeming opposites of ... forest and town, spontaneity and calculation" to offer the best of both worlds.

In her elegant meditation on the trees of North America, Samuels looks closely at the role of managed nature in our history. She turns to such exhibits as the "wild apples" Henry David Thoreau celebrated (which were simply escapees from New England orchards); the Charter Oak of Connecticut, honored for its role in revolutionary history, some 10,000 pieces of which were distributed around the country when the tree died in 1856; and the work of John Chapman, "Johnny Appleseed," who planted countless thousands of European trees throughout Ohio and Indiana. Samuels deepens our knowledge of commonplace events, writing, for instance, of the double-blossom cherry trees that grace the Tidal Basin of Washington, D.C., a gift of the Japanese government in the early 20th century--but, Samuels adds, a gift meant to persuade the United States to keep its doors open to Japanese immigration.

Ardent arboriculturalists and students of cultural history alike will welcome Samuels's graceful book. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:11 -0400)

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