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American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the…
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American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation (edition 2013)

by Eric Rutkow (Author)

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311886,054 (3.93)19
In the bestselling tradition of Michael Pollan's "Second Nature," this fascinating and unique historical work tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Americans and trees across the entire span of our nation's history. The history of trees in America is no less remarkable than the history of the United States itself--from the majestic white pines of New England, coveted by the British Crown for use as masts in navy warships, to the orange groves of California, which lured settlers west. In fact, without the country's vast forests and the hundreds of tree species they contained, there would have been no ships, docks, railroads, stockyards, wagons, barrels, furniture, newspapers, rifles, or firewood. No New York City, Miami, or Chicago. No Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, or Daniel Boone. America--if indeed it existed--would be a very different place without its millions of acres of trees. As Eric Rutkow's epic account shows, trees indivisible from the country's rise as both an empire and a civilization. Never before has anyone treated our country's trees and forests as the subject of a broad historical study, and the result is an accessible, informative, and thoroughly entertaining read.--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:davidmcooper
Title:American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation
Authors:Eric Rutkow (Author)
Info:Scribner (2013), 424 pages
Collections:Your library
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American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow

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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is both a book about trees and American history. It's also an interesting read. ( )
  Catherine.Cox | Jun 17, 2024 |
An interesting angle from which to approach American history: trees, forests, the lumber industry, and ultimately the ecology movement. Well written and well researched. (Of necessity, near the end it sort of loses focus on American trees and forests because our interaction with these things now occurs on a global stage due to international trade in wood products.) ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
This is a nonfiction book about how the abundance of trees in the U.S. intersected with development of our nation. An interesting topic and one that worked very well for large sections of the book and less well in others. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Rutkow writes about how valued trees were to European settlers. They were used for housing, fencing, furniture, etc. But also for ship building - especially exciting was the abundance of very tall straight trees that could be used for masts. He talks about trees used for food (apple, orange, chestnut, etc.) He moves into talking about lumber mills and paper mills and the progression of mindset from "the trees are there for us to use in whatever way we need", to conservation, to environmentalism. I also was interested in the section about the American Chestnut and the Elm tree that were decimated by introduced fungi.

As you can see, he casts a wide net and covers a lot of topics. I preferred those that really kept trees as the focus. Some of the chapters were too much about politics. And it was also sad, though not a new idea, to delve in to all the ways we've ruined our forests. The long section on paper mills lost my interest.

Overall, I am glad I read this book, but it wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be. Or maybe I just wanted a different focus than the author chose. Either way, it's a soft recommendation from me. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Apr 1, 2023 |
Excellent - a must read for anyone interested in history, nature, and the role of trees in America's evolution. ( )
  labdaddy4 | Jun 19, 2019 |
I discovered this fascinating book while browsing the shelves of the library so this was not a planned title or one that was on my book radar. I found it to be a fascinating look at American history through its use and misuse of its trees and forests. The book started with the primeval forest and the harvesting of the New England White Pine for the exclusive use of the British Navy and ended with the impact of the Environmental movement and Global Warming. There was a whole chapter on tree diseases and the impact of them on our trees. Specifically discussed was Dutch Elm Disease and the Chestnut Blight and how the attempt to stop the Dutch Elm Disease led to Rachel Carson studying the effects of pesticides. Famous people who loved trees, all the way from Henry David Thoreau to Aldo Leopold were written about as well as those who hated trees, like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. It was truly an amazing history and very well written. I highly recommend this book to history lovers as well as those who love our forests and trees. I am glad I read this one and I am going to pass it on to somebody else who will appreciate this unique history. ( )
  benitastrnad | Jun 21, 2018 |
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In the bestselling tradition of Michael Pollan's "Second Nature," this fascinating and unique historical work tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Americans and trees across the entire span of our nation's history. The history of trees in America is no less remarkable than the history of the United States itself--from the majestic white pines of New England, coveted by the British Crown for use as masts in navy warships, to the orange groves of California, which lured settlers west. In fact, without the country's vast forests and the hundreds of tree species they contained, there would have been no ships, docks, railroads, stockyards, wagons, barrels, furniture, newspapers, rifles, or firewood. No New York City, Miami, or Chicago. No Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, or Daniel Boone. America--if indeed it existed--would be a very different place without its millions of acres of trees. As Eric Rutkow's epic account shows, trees indivisible from the country's rise as both an empire and a civilization. Never before has anyone treated our country's trees and forests as the subject of a broad historical study, and the result is an accessible, informative, and thoroughly entertaining read.--From publisher description.

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