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The Man Who Planted Trees Hardcover – October, 1995

109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Man Who Planted Trees is not a detailed how-to guide to planting; it is a touching story of Elzéard Bouffier, who devoted his entire life to reforesting a desolate portion of Provence, in southern France. He single-handedly planted 100 acorns each day before, through, and after two world wars, and transformed a sorrowful place into one full of life and joy. Jean Giono's words offer a tribute to how much good one person can accomplish in a lifetime and advise on how to live life with deep meaning. Illustrated with moving, beautiful wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, The Man Who Planted Trees is simply written but powerful and unforgettable. The text is also available on tape, eloquently narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema and accompanied by music from the Paul Winter Consort.


"A timeless classic, ideal to read aloud for hope, for love of the green and living world—and for marveling at the resilient beauty of nature."--Branches of Light

"In Giono's work what every sensitive, full-blooded individual ought to be able to recognize at once is 'the song of the world.'"--Henry Miller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930031024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930031022
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Melanie on January 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Man Who Planted Trees is the tale of Elzeard Bouffier, a man who, after his son and wife die, spends his life reforesting miles of barren land in southern France. Bouffier's planting of thousands and thousands of trees results in many wondrous things occurring, including water again flowing in brooks that had been dry for many years. The brooks are fed by rains and snows that are conserved by the forest that Bouffier planted. The harsh, barren land is now pleasant and full of life.
Written by Jean Giono, this popular story of inspiration and hope was originally published in 1954 in Vogue as "The Man Who Planted Hope and Grew Happiness." The story's opening paragraph is as follows:
"For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake."
The Man Who Planted Trees has left a "visible mark upon the earth" having been translated into several languages. In the "Afterword" of the Chelsea Green Publishing Company's edition, Norma L. Goodrich wrote that Giono donated his story. According to Goodrich, "Giono believed he left his mark on earth when he wrote Elzeard Bouffier's story because he gave it away for the good of others, heedless of payment: `It was one of my stories of which I am the proudest. It does not bring me in one single penny and that is why it has accomplished what it was written for.'"
This special edition is very informative.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John McAndrew on September 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In many readers' lives there are a few books, or maybe only one, which serve as touchstones. They define us like our most vivid memories do. Not many books or stories deserve that kind of devotion, but this one does. It isn't timeless - it's deeply rooted in 20th century France - but its honest treatment of the time and place is one of the things that makes it universal.

There are dozens of facets that could be highlighted in a review, but the one I find most compelling is Giono's treatment of a man alone and how he is yet connected to the world around him. Even a solitary figure can contribute to the birth and health of a community. It's not clear why he does his work, but it's clear that the work is good.

There is such hope here, but no easy palliative. It is a call to lifelong diligence in the service of something good, and important, and bigger than ourselves.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jean Giono's inspiring story of the "man who planted trees" reached me some days ago as a birthday gift from my two sons.They thought it an appropriate gift for me probably because I am now engaged in an effort to grow trees in some land which I bought as a barren waste land. I found the book extremely inspiring.The interesting thing is that there indeed are unsung heroes and heroines in many parts of the world who do do such inspiring work without thought of reward.Some months back I read in Indian newspapers about a poor couple in the Karnatak state of India who decided to plant trees to assuage their sorrow in being childless.As they had no land of their own they decided to plant trees on the roadside.And ended up with magnificent avenue trees on miles and miles of the road near their village. There still seems to be hope for mankind!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have had a copy of this book for over ten years, I loaned it to everyone I could. The last time I loaned it, it didn't come back. So, I bought the edition shown here. This has woodblock art in with it, beautiful work. I read the book every now and then because it is uplifting. The way Mr. Giono wrote it is so vivid, it's like you are there. It's actually a short story and takes about 20 - 30 minutes to read. But it has a high re-readability factor. Get this and share with your children, a friend who is down in the dumps, or buy one for the school library.

A re-assuring, peaceful, wonderful story with a simple, unforgettable message.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Insinger on August 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, I read The Man Who Planted Trees and enjoyed it so much that I passed it on to a friend to read. With the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition, I decided this was a book that had to be reread and added to my library as an all-time favorite. My second reading was enjoyed even more than the first. Perhaps the wisdom I have garnered between readings has come to a fuller fruition.

Jean Giono has created a marvelous character in Elzeard Bouffier, a man who found purpose in life by the planting of acorns that grew into magnificent trees. Since he never wandered far from his home, he was able to see the fruits of his labor and the complete revitalization of the landscape around him. It is no wonder that he seldom saw the need for talk. Seeing was both believing and self-fulfilling for him.

The wood engravings by Michael McCurdy add beauty and simple elegance to the story. The picture of Elzeard Bouffier is exactly as Jean Giono portrays him: a kind and gentle soul, filled with peace and contentment with the earth in which he planted and walked upon.

Although this is a book for the ages, for all ages, it finds special relevance for our time. Everyone can benefit from the reading of this little book.
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