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on December 29, 2012
Gretchen C. Daily, a Stanford environmental professor, and Charles Jr. Katz, Jr., a talented photographer, have partnered to produce a minor classic, The Power of Trees. This slim book summarizes, in words and pictures, the phenomenal impact trees have on our world and in our lives. Rather than recite reams of hard-to-understand statistics, however, Gretchen Daily writes a brief and elegant summary of the power of trees en masse; this is not a catalog of different trees or a physical description of particular tree species, but a bold attempt to capture a sweeping picture of how important the entire tree empire is to our lives on earth.

Charles Katz's small black and white photographs of trees in Washington State's Skagit Valley nicely complement Ms Daily's poetic words. His photographs show a variety of trees, from the gnarled roots of an old-timer to hillsides of young trees growing on a clear-cut. Like Ms Daily's text, Mr. Katz is not illustrating a particular tree; he is providing a glimpse of trees in their totality and how they dominate the landscape. These spare and precise pictures bring to mind the photographers of the mid-20th Century, almost as if Henri Cartier-Bresson got loose in the woods.

According to Ms Daily, trees constitute 95 percent of all living tissue on the Earth's surface. Their by-products are essential to life: the forests of the Amazon account for 8 trillion tons of water in the atmosphere each year. Trees are among the oldest of Earth's living things: California's Methuselah bristlecone tree is 5,000 years old (about the time human beings invented writing.) Trees are, understandably, the tallest of Earth's residents: a Sequoia sempervirens, the coastal redwood, has been measured at 379.1 feet. They are also the heaviest organisms: in Utah there is a Great Banyan Tree colony -- trees with interconnected roots that constitute a single individual -- called Pando. The colony consists of 47,000 trees, weighing an estimated 7,275 tons over 100 acres. Pando is anywhere from 80,000 to one million years old.

It is difficult to recommend The Power of Trees too highly. It is a refreshing change of pace from turgid descriptions of global climate change or the decline of biodiversity; obviously those issues are important, but sometimes it's necessary to "be in the present" and just stand back and look. Together Ms Daily and Mr. Katz have given us just what we need.
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on September 12, 2013
Got caught up in the hyped reviews when I ordered this book. They advised that this book would bring my appreciation of trees to a newer, higher, almost celestial level. Which is difficult since I already hold them in high esteem. Unfortunately not only didn't I gleam anything noteworthy from the book, the pictures did not even depict the beauty of trees. Just a bunch of black and white non descript photos. Oh well. Should have gone to the library (or brick and motor book store) and glanced at the book there before spending my money at Amazon. Taking a shortcut to actually viewing a book rarely pans out. It's what I love about those books on Amazon that allow us to flip through them.
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on May 19, 2013
This book has great potential. As a retired botanist who taught a course in trees at a university and later spent almost 40 years in forest genetics research, the book taught me some dimensions to forest potential I could have used in the past. It is beautifully written and scientifically sound, a pleasure to read if you have good eyesight. The photographs are interesting, but not always to the point of the essay, so could be more obviously integrated with the script. However, the print is very tiny and so are the pictures. This may have been someone's idea of an artistic touch (Or an economy?) but it will not attract readers who would benefit and make use of the writer's wisdom.
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on February 3, 2013
While the content is lovely, I was disappointed that the pictures and print in the book are so small. It is already a small book (71/2 X 8 inches) and the prose or photo generally took less than 50% of the page, making it less pleasurable to read or view.
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on February 1, 2013
I did not like the layout of the book, the pictures were too small and lost all detail! It seemed to me they just put pages together to take up room! Where there should have been pictures there were none, the writing was good, but as a whole the book was a disappointment !
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on January 22, 2014
I found it hard to work up any enthusiasm for this book. Small photos, not very interesting, and brief snippets of text on pages that are largely space. However, the person for whom I got it as a present raves about it, so perhaps it's just my taste that 's off (being a volunteer naturalist and a photographer I obviously have my own ideas about what works and what doesn't, but I welcome anything that helps people be more conscious of the world around them).
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on July 5, 2013
I bought this based on a recommendation in an issue of the Nature Conservancy magazine and was fairly disappointed. Very short and lacking in both photos and content. The photos were small and the text pages mostly whitespace. What was there was good, but not much to it.
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on October 4, 2013
I particularily like this book not just because of the sensitive black and white photos of trees in various environs but because the authors know that trees talk. This may not be a surprise to some. I have received telepathic communication from a tree telling me to look up and out a window because the tree was going to fall. I did and it did. It was an amazing experience. It was a very large spruce and I looked at it everyday while working at my job.

The book is small and very simply designed giving trees their due in an uncomplicated venue. The text is beautifully written.
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on October 5, 2012
Thank you so much for the simplicity, power of the messages and vivid photographs!! Highly recommended, a true gift for the world!
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on June 8, 2013
this book is defined by weak photos and poorly written text. No information or aesthetic appeal gained. Overall I can not recommend it.
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