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The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature [Kindle Edition]

David George Haskell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.73
You Save: $4.27 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC


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Book Description

Winner of 2013 Best Book Award from the National Academies.
Finalist for 2013 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

Winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award.
Winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural
History Literature.

Runner-up for 2013 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest.

In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one- square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.

Each of this book's short chapters begins with a simple observation: a salamander scuttling across the leaf litter; the first blossom of spring wildflowers. From these, Haskell spins a brilliant web of biology and ecology, explaining the science that binds together the tiniest microbes and the largest mammals and describing the ecosystems that have cycled for thousands- sometimes millions-of years. Each visit to the forest presents a nature story in miniature as Haskell elegantly teases out the intricate relationships that order the creatures and plants that call it home.

Written with remarkable grace and empathy, The Forest Unseen is a grand tour of nature in all its profundity. Haskell is a perfect guide into the world that exists beneath our feet and beyond our backyards.

Editorial Reviews


"...a welcome entry in the world of nature writers. He thinks like a biologist, writes like a poet, and gives the natural world the kind of open-minded attention one expects from a Zen monk rather than a hypothesis-driven scientist." The New York Times

"Very much a contemporary biologist in his familiarity with genetics and population ecology, he also has the voracious synthetic imagination of a 19th-century naturalist. Most important, Mr. Haskell is a sensitive writer, conjuring with careful precision the worlds he observes and delighting the reader with insightful turns of phrase." The Wall Street Journal
"...a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry." Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

About the Author

David George Haskell is a professor of biology at the University of the South and was named the Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year in Tennessee in 2009. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Michael Healy has appeared Off-Broadway and on national TV, most notably on Saturday Night Live for three years, as well as in several national commercials. His audiobook recordings include The Collector of Lost Things by Jeremy Page and The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Product Details

  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 067002337X
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GSYZB6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,988 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The forest unseen, a year's watch in nature April 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Outstanding, a joy to read. The story is presented as a series of daily observances of a small section of old growth forest. Each daily narrative is driven by what was taking place during each visit.The author clearly explains these goings on and how they effect the larger ecosystem, from season to season, fungus to large mammals.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Observation fosters a deeper love May 20, 2012
One of the best natural history oriented books I've read in the past several years. Using a one square meter patch of Tennessee old growth forest as the object of his contemplation, and returning to it frequently throughout the year, the author shows us natural phenomena we'd otherwise have overlooked. Haskell emphasizes the interconnectedness of humble organisms such as fungi and soil-inhabiting arthropods as well as the more familiar birds and mammals we're more likely to notice.You will be inspired to take a much closer look during your next outing into nature.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is a classic September 15, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book. I read, re-read and then bought the hard back copy to have one for the shelves. Will continue to re-read. Extremely well written and insightful. Each paragraph is charged with poetic information and deep understanding of the eco-system. I found the book absorbing.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed nature observations (but with a vertebrate bias) November 24, 2012
Haskell's "The Forest Unseen" is a wonderful approach to 'nature writ small'. I very much enjoyed his focus on a small patch of ground through the seasons. It is too bad Haskell suffers from the vertebrate bias that is so pervasive in our society, and even within university biology departments. For example, he writes "The soil's food web reaches its zenith in the shrew. Only owls will eat shrews; everything else gives them a wide berth..." A truly unbiased biologist would never forget that all vertebrates are food for an enormous diversity of invertebrates. I'm sure there are lice, fleas, mites, and ticks that feed on shrews regularly (not sure if a shrew ever slows down long enough for a mosquito to get a bite but maybe a blackfly or a no-see-um could drink some shrew blood). That these animals don't kill shrews matters little when tracking energy and nutrient flow through a food web. When a shrew dies it is the blowflies that find them first, or perhaps some lucky carrion beetles. Well over a dozen species of animals consider shrews to be food but because these animals are not vertebrates they are second-class citizens and often ignored. Haskell does include mentions here and there of invertebrates in his study plot and I hope one or more chapters I have yet to read will go into greater depth into their fascinating lives. This issue aside, Haskell's book is a wonderful read and should excite many that one doesn't need to travel to exotic nature refuges - within a single square meter of many backyards there is enough diversity and biological wonder to keep you enthralled for a long long time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! October 30, 2012
By mary
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am giving this book to my most discerning, nature-loving friends. In thoughtful, short essays, the author teaches us to observe the interconnections of nature. He interweaves botany with many levels of poetic associations with other realms of knowledge such as history and philosophy. I love this book!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound insights June 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Forest Unseen" is full of the most insightful observations I've seen in a book of it's nature. David Haskell has the background plus the forests love to describe in minute detail what lies hidden from our view. His passion is contagious and even for nature lovers and teachers, there's much to be learned from this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! October 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
David Haskell does a masterful job of describing complex natural systems in very readable and accessible terms. His writing transports the reader to that seemingly tranquil spot in the old growth forest, only to discover fascinating layers of physiological and ecological activity and interrelationships.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars liked it so much going to buy the book (kindle) April 18, 2012
The book was excellent and a keeper.. its one that you can refer to time and time again and enjoy his journer into the forest unseen
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent read and an effective way of discussing natural history and innovations in the sciences. Enjoyed it.
Published 2 days ago by Peter M. Ravdin
5.0 out of 5 stars Have to get one.
Bring you into very beautiful world though his view.
Published 6 days ago by Yinnu CHEN
5.0 out of 5 stars the forest unseen
This is a phenomenal book which is like going to college.....had me highlighting and writing notes! This book teaches you about the intricacies of nature and thinking about so... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Bonnie L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating View Of Nature
The Forest Unseen is a fascinating nonfiction book that examines life on a one square meter of old growth forest owned by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Sandra Kirkland
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and incredible
A delightful glimpse into the remarkable life in the forest with all the seasonal changes. A book that you will never forget
Published 1 month ago by Susanna Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars A Year in Nature School
Five Stars, yes, but mostly only to nature enthusiasts.....You don't have to have degrees in biology or chemistry to thoroughly enjoy this well written book, but it would... Read more
Published 1 month ago by semperfi
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime
Beautifully written, fascinating. I lived in rural Tennessee for six years and wish I'd had this book then. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marsha.L.S
5.0 out of 5 stars I Learn How to See More...
...each time I read this book. I have lived on 10 wooded acres for 26 years. I will spent my time observing differently when visiting my favorite stations.
Published 2 months ago by Louise Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Slowly and Quietly Bethrilled
Observing nature thrills me. David George Haskell observes as I wish I could. His year-long quiet study of the forest floor is filled with finds no "normal person" would... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sue Eberhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars I will never look at the world around me the same again. I love it!
Books about the world around us seem to come in three distinct genres; political diatribes, literary prose, and hosts of science books little more engaging than textbooks. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brad Allen
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More About the Author

David Haskell's work integrates scientific and contemplative studies of the natural world. His research and teaching examine the evolution and conservation of animals, especially forest-dwelling birds and invertebrates. This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Templeton Foundation. In addition to numerous scientific articles, he has published essays and poems about science and nature. In 2014, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

His classes have received national attention for the innovative ways in which they combine scientific exploration, contemplative practice, and action in the community. In 2009, the Carnegie and CASE Foundations named him Professor of the Year for Tennessee, an award given to college professors of who have achieved national distinction and whose work shows "extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching." The Oxford American featured him in 2011 as one of the southern U.S.'s most creative teachers and his teaching has been profiled in USA Today, The Tennesseean, and other newspapers.

Haskell holds degrees from the University of Oxford (B.A. in Zoology) and from Cornell University (Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). He is Professor of Biology at the University of the South, where he has served both as Chair of Biology and as an Environmental Fellow with the Associated Colleges of the South. He is a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and was granted Elective Membership in the American Ornithologists' Union in recognition of "significant contributions to ornithology." He served on the board of the South Cumberland Regional Land Trust, where he initiated and led the campaign to purchase and protect a portion of Shakerag Hollow, where the book is set, a forest that E. O. Wilson has called a "cathedral of nature."

He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he and his wife, Sarah Vance, run a micro-farm.

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