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Oak: The Frame of Civilization Hardcover – July 11, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; y First printing edition (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393047733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393047738
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
I read this book in a single day.
M. Buisman
The author is to be commended for doing as much work as he did and for making sure the book was well printed.
Ol' Grumpy
There's fascinating history, interesting anecdotes and the passion of the author to recommend this book.
Edward Matty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on May 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that I would have liked to have written myself! It is a wonderful tale about the place of oaks throughout civilization. I found the linking of so many European family names to oaks and other trees very fascinating. The descriptions of the wooden structures, coppicing, early inks, acorns as food, oaks as foundation for many early technologies, and many other details brought a richness to the history of our ancestors and the beginnings of civilization. I live in an oak-hickory region of the eastern U.S., and this book has given me a greater appreciation of our national treasure.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Parkinson on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
i found this book well written, easy to read and full of interesting aspects. i must admit that the section on using oak to build with that got into the details of cuts and joints was a bit hard to follow but all in all i now understand and appreciate the value and importance of the oak to civilization. so i encourage and recommend this very enjoyable book.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By There is Treasure Everywhere on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonder-full exploration of the lives of Oak and Us. It talks about the growth and evolvement of human beings in terms of their ability to create using oak as their medium. It is a fascinating treck through the history of our time on earth. Kudos to Bill Logan. Read it; give it to a friend. He has done it again!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grammie on December 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this in the form of a library book and liked it so much I bought the paper back. One of the surprising things I found out was that acorns can be treated and ground into a very nutritious flour. Native Americans made acorn flour and some Korean grocery stores still stock it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William H. Gwin on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
William Logan, in "Oak: The Frame of Civliztion," creates a vivid and compelling portrait of of the ubiquitous oak tree, including its botanical history, as well as its cultural one. Well paced, engaging, and well illustrated, I unequivocally recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn J. Street on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Just a quick vote - I don't have much to add to the other reviews except it's good for a short attention span (not much main argument, just lots of 3-10 page interesting short topics related to Oak, such as shipbuilding, forest management, Garden of Eden, Chumash culture, history of various technologies. A person who does not normally enjoy non-fiction might want to skip any part they find boring. I got a lot out of this book, and after getting it from the library twice I may buy myself a copy - it deserves bookshelf (or kindle) space at my house, because it's got an index and could be referred to in conversation. I imagine it's not for everyone.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ol' Grumpy on December 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the best book about wood that I have read in years. The author is to be commended for doing as much work as he did and for making sure the book was well printed.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how humans and oaks have interacted throughout history.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. OConnor on February 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is most like the "New Yorker" at it's best. Which was when a writer looks at some prosaic part of life and opens his eye wide; then writes about it clearly, with the full power and the real art of a bright and deep understanding of the utter complex beauty of the seemingly simple. Mr Logan, please do more.
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