From Publishers Weekly
There's good reason for the oak being called mighty, writes certified arborist and former New York Times
columnist Logan (Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth
) in this sprawling biography of a tree. It's ubiquitous, highly adaptable and was once the most essential tree in the Earth's temperate zones. Easily harvested acorns arguably nurtured people long before they learned to sow and hunt. Oak lumber, readily available and remarkably flexible, once made possible the naval and trading ships of seafaring nations; the same wood, shaped by craftsmen using fundamentally the same tools for thousands of years, was used to craft casks that stored water, wine and food on long voyages and through the seasons. Now, the tree that, according to Logan, once shaped civilizations, providing all "the material necessities for human life," is used primarily in the Western world for wooden pallets and low-end flooring. With this multidisciplinary study's recipe for acorn bread, its paean to the currier's leather-making craft and the cooper's barrel-making skill, and its thumbnail forays into religious rites, natural science and the importance of squirrels and jays, this work is an entertaining and instructive homage to the oak. 30 illus. not seen by PW.(June)
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The oak is referred to as both mighty and majestic, used in everything from furniture to food, and found in nearly every temperate region of the earth. It's contribution to and sustenance of cultures since the dawn of humanity is easily, and often erroneously, taken for granted. Other trees, Logan claims, may be older, taller, more imposing, but none are so essential or so impressive as the oak. In this eloquent exploration of all things oak, Logan traces the historical applications and appreciations of the many ways in which the oak's byproducts have shaped civilizations throughout the world. From Homo sapiens'
earliest harvesting of acorns as a basic foodstuff to the durable oak ships of the intrepid armadas that circumnavigated the globe, oak has been a vital contributor to humanity's economic, geographic, and cultural evolution. With an unabashed enthusiasm for his subject, Logan speaks almost conversationally of the oak's attributes, offering a comprehensive and entertaining history of this highly adaptable and overwhelmingly valuable natural resource. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved