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The Tree Where Man Was Born (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143106244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143106241
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These dual Matthiessens, which launch the publisher's new "Nature Classics" line, profile the relationship between humans and nature in East Africa (The Tree, LJ 12/1/72) and in the United States (Wildlife, LJ 1/15/60). The latter volume has been expanded and updated for this edition.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Few nature books called 'classic' are as deserving of the appellation as this one, for no one writes about Africa with quite the same insight and enthusiasm as Peter Matthiessen. . . .his grasp of people, events, history, science, and conservation is exceptional. . . .With his sympathy for and knowledge of the tribal peoples and the wildlife of Africa, Matthiessen has an uncanny ability to make us see a raw and untouched landscape where only those people who have adapted their lives to the patterns of nature truly belong. This is a place where we are the intruder, and it takes a rare writer to make us see it that way. --Kirkus (UK)

Stunning. . . .The Africa [Matthiessen] evokes is finally timeless, majestic, throbbing with life, indivisible. --Saturday Review

The lush prose casts its own spell on a landscape observed with awe and inexplicable sadness. . . .[Matthiessen's] narrative powers are considerable. . . . --Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
The book is very well written and engaging.
Marilyn Murphy
Matthiessen's eye for landscapes is unparalleled, and his lyric evocations of beast and horizon have an otherworldly quality.
ESH
I recommend this one to anyone interested in the peoples and wildlife of Eastern Africa.
Frances C. Morrier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 82 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Is there anyplace wild enough to lift the weight that Occidental culture has placed on our shoulders? Africa, where the first man walked erect, may be the last place where man can feel awed enough by Nature to try and remember that he, also, is just another among the millions of other species that populate the planet. Paul Bowles, Bruce Chatwin, Doris Lessing, Isaak Dinesen and Peter Mattieshen found that answer, and shared the experience. In Mattieshen's poetic account, the tragic and fabulous beauty of a continent that has been devastated by greed and war is revealed, as the impossibility of traveling Africa and not falling in love with it and being changed by it forever.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Frances C. Morrier on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I wasn't certain what to expect when I got this book. I was a bit concerned that since it was written about experiences in the 1960's that it would feel a bit dated. Although the 1960's view of the future of East Africa's peoples and wildlife is not entirely accurate, I am finding the book to be an excellent way to prepare for a trip to Tanzania--for someone wanting a combination of background on the peoples, landscape and wildlife. Matthiessen's usual subdued, to me, dry style seems leavened a bit by his awe. And the account of the elephant researcher who's 'close encounter' approach puts Matthiessen off his feed, was really enjoyable to me--a departure from his usual, very dry approach. I recommend this one to anyone interested in the peoples and wildlife of Eastern Africa.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By ESH on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one my very favorite of Matthiessen's impressive canon, ranking easily with Far Tortuga and The Snow Leopard. Indeed, I think some of the passages in The Tree Where Man Was Born might surpass the stunning Himalaya descriptions in the latter book. Matthiessen's eye for landscapes is unparalleled, and his lyric evocations of beast and horizon have an otherworldly quality. A prime example, and one to look out for, is his account of finding rhinoceros tracks on the high volcanic slopes of Mt. Lengai. Another highlight are his crystalline observations of ecological moments during a vigil atop an East African kopje.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Murray VINE VOICE on October 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Tree Where Man Was Born (Classic, Nature, Penguin)The Tree Where Man Was Born

by Peter Matthiessen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book before I knew who Peter Matthiessen was, namely, one of the greatest nature writers of all time. Because of the book's title, I thought the author would tie present day East Africa to a by-gone era when man was primitive and evolving and nature ruled. I read the first one-hundred fifty pages and put it down for five years before returning to it. At that time, I was lost in my passion for the life and times of early man and not so interested in anything that rhymed with 'present day'.

Then, after finishing that portion of my writing, I returned to what might be Matthiessen's greatest nature book (well, there is Snow Leopard and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. Hard to pick). When I picked it up the second time, I couldn't put it down. His descriptions of nature, the depth of understanding he voices for the people of the land, his vivid descriptions of what happens around him are like no one else.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy K. Morris on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you have always wanted to go to Africa, when you read this book, you will feel that you must go. If you have not wanted to go, you will feel that you have gone. The prose is sheer poetry, if that is possible, and the pictures drawn with words bring joy. It is raw, real, deadly, lovely, soft and gentle...all the things that I imagine Africa was and still is. A great read for pleasure or knowledge. I recommend it highly.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Do Dad on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Peter Mathieson's The Snow Leopard struck a chord with me. He skillfully wove his personal trials and tribulations into the fabric of an adventure story, looking for an endangered cat in remote parts of Nepal, and his study of Buddhism. The Tree Where Man Was Born falls far short of the standards he created. We learn lots about the anthropology, history, and natural environment of East Africa but little or nothing about the author. The book starts slowly and the reader waits in vain for a story. Once you realize its a travelogue, its pretty good with lots of interesting tidbits about critters and folks in this region of the world. It is by no means a nature classic as billed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Woody on January 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first half reads like some scholarly botanical report, with words from multiple languages and dialects thrown in for additional distraction. The last 100 pages are a fair read but never make up for that first 150. The book covers trips over a ten year period and sometimes it's tough following the when and where.

It's not a bad book, just not my cup of tea.
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