“An original and often surprising take on American history.” —Wall Street Journal
“There is much in this book on the prevalence of wood products in our life, but more on their deeper significance. This book is not merely a history, but an eloquent advocate of, as Rutkow writes, ‘how trees change from enemy, to friend, to potential savior.’” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A lively story of driven personalities, resources that were once thought to be endless, brilliant ideas, tragic mistakes and the evolution of the United States. Rutkow has cut through America’s use and love of trees to reveal the rings of our nation’s history and the people who have helped shape it.” —San Diego Union Tribune
"An excellent book for both academics and general readers, this is highly recommended." -Library Journal
"An even-handed and comprehensive history that could not be more relevant...The woods, Rutkow’s history reminds us again and again, are essential to our humanity." --Business Week
"A deeply fascinating survey of American history through a particularly interesting angle: down through the boughs of our vanished trees." -Boston Globe
“For those who see our history through the traditional categories of politics, economics, and culture, a delightful feast awaits. In this remarkably inventive book, Eric Rutkow looks at our national experience through the lens of our magnificent trees, showing their extraordinary importance in shaping how we lived, thrived, and expanded as a people. A beautifully written, devilishly original piece of work.”
—David Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio: An American Story
"Right from its quietly shocking prelude--the cavalier and surprisingly recent murder of the oldest living thing in North America--Eric Rutkow’s splendid saga shows, through a chain of stories and biographical sketches that are intimate, fresh, and often startling, how trees have shaped every aspect of our national life. Here is the tree as symbol and as tool, as companion and enemy, as a tonic for our spirits and the indispensable ingredient of our every enterprise from the colonization voyages to the transcontinental railroad to Levittown. The result, both fascinating and valuable, is a sort of shadow history of America. Toward the end of his finest novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes that the 'vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of human dreams.' AMERICAN CANOPY retrieves those trees and does full-rigged (on tall, white pine masts) justice to the dream."
--Richard Snow, author of A Measureless Peril and former Editor-in-Chief of American Heritage
"AMERICAN CANOPY marks the debut of an uncommonly gifted young historian and writer. Ranging across four centuries of history, Eric Rutkow shows the manifold ways in which trees--and woodland--and wood--have shaped the contours of American life and culture. And because he has managed to build the story around gripping events and lively characters, the book entertains as much as it as informs. All in all, a remarkable performance!"
--John Demos, Samuel Knight Professor of History at Yale University, and author of Entertaining Satan, winner of the Bancroft Prize in American History, and The Unredeemed Captive, which was a finalist for the National Book Award