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Oak: The Frame of Civilization by William…

Oak: The Frame of Civilization

by William Bryant Logan

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  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Not for everyone, but I did find it interesting how oak has played such an important, integral role in societal evolution. Some bits are abut technical and could use more in the way of illustration especially some of the carpentry terms. The first section on acorns as a food source was very interesting and makes me wonder why we aren't utilizing acorn meal in our diets today. It sounds like it is very nutritious! I bought this book because I attended a seminar on oaks and the author was a presenter. Otherwise i probably would never have been aware of the book. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |

Logan tries to show that the oak tree is Awfully Important to Western Civilisation, and indeed makes a reasonable case for the place of oak in various foundational texts and physical structures of our society. In particular, I liked the points made about the nutritional value of acorn flour (though it's odd that it isn't used more) and the oak structure of Westminster Hall and of early modern sailing ships. There were some odd slips (Burley for Burghley, Wainright for Wainwright) and the naval warfare theme got more than a little sidetracked when it came to the nineteenth century. It's a reasonable effort, though reflecting rather than communicating the author's obsession with the subject.

Of course, he completely omits those civilisations and culture for whom oak was not an option. I'm a little troubled by the nativist resonances of his equating Europe and the Middle East with pre-Columbian North and Central America, and the fact that this particular focus erases Africa and other places where oak doesn't grow.

I would also have liked to know more about how oak fitted in with other types of wood in the ancient world. It's interesting that Ötzi the iceman carried many different types of wood crafted into tools - none of them oak, as far as I can tell from a quick scan of the websites. Logan's focus on oak, important as it was and is, rather obscures the rest of the forest. ( )
  nwhyte | Jul 12, 2015 |
Mildy interesting, but neither engrossing nor memorable ( )
  jaygheiser | Jul 23, 2008 |
While I'm glad I didn't buy it, this book is genuinely fun. Some of the author's information is questionable, but much of it appears to be good. An entertaining and edifying read about Oak, that genuinely makes trees interesting. The book touches on most oak-related topics including their used as food/medicine, and as the wood that made the Viking ships. Very much worth picking up if you're interested in Oaks and history. ( )
  syrinx_77 | Jul 12, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393327787, Paperback)

The ultimate distance race is within your reach—a completely updated edition of the now-classic work.

Professional arborist and award-winning nature writer William Bryant Logan deftly relates the delightful history of the reciprocal relationship between humans and oak trees since time immemorial—a profound link that has almost been forgotten. From the ink of Bach’s cantatas, to the first boat to reach the New World, to the wagon, the barrel, and the sword, oak trees have been a constant presence throughout our history. In fact, civilization prospered where oaks grew, and for centuries these supremely adaptable, generous trees have supported humankind in nearly every facet of life. “With an unabashed enthusiasm for his subject” (Carol Haggas, Booklist) Logan combines science, philosophy, spirituality, and history with a contagious curiosity about why the natural world works the way it does. At once humorous and reverent, “this splendid acknowledgment of a natural marvel” (Publishing News) reintroduces the oak tree so that we might see its vibrant presence throughout our history and our modern world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"William Bryant Logan, a professional arborist and an award-winning nature writer, has put his love for oak to paper, and here relates the history of the relationship between humans and oak trees since time immemorial. Civilization prospered where oaks grew, and for centuries these supremely adaptable, generous trees have supported humankind in nearly every facet of life. With reverence, humor, and compassion, Logan reintroduces the oak tree so that we might see its vibrant presence throughout our history and our modern world."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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