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Remarkable Trees of the World

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Remarkable Trees of the World [Paperback]

Thomas Pakenham
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 17, 2003

"A stunning volume" (Time) and the most magnificent book on the world's trees published in years.

The publication of Remarkable Trees of the World took American audiences by storm. Thomas Pakenham embarks on a five-year odyssey to most of the temperate and tropical regions of the world to photograph sixty trees of remarkable personality and presence: Dwarfs, Giants, Monuments, and Aliens; the lovingly tended midgets of Japan; the enormous strangler from India; and the 4,700-year "Old Methusalehs." American readers will be fascinated by Pakenham's first examination of North American trees, including the towering Redwoods of Sequoia and Yosemite, the gaunt Joshua Trees of Death Valley and the Bristlecone pines discovered in California's White Mountains.

Many of these trees were already famous―champions by girth, height, volume or age―while others had never previously been caught by the camera. Pakenham's five-year odyssey, sweating it out with a 30 pound Linhof camera and tripod, took him to most of the temperate and many of the tropical regions of the world. Although North American trees dominate this book, Pakenham also trekked to remote regions in Mexico, all over Europe, parts of Asia including Japan, northern and southern Africa, Madagascar, Australia and New Zealand.

Remarkable Trees of the World is a lavish work that will be treasured for generations by all those who marvel at nature. Color photographs throughout

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Following Meetings with Remarkable Trees (Random, 1998), which features trees in Britain and Ireland, this book sets out to discover more such natural wonders elsewhere. In Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, he finds 60 commanding giants and dwarfs, Methuselahs, shrines, and "dream" trees of many kinds. Whether he is meeting baobabs, sequoias, or banyans, he finds magnificence, beauty, and, sometimes, sadness. He has a genius for communicating his sense of each tree as an individual being, engendering wonder, awe, and respect for it in readers. His thoughtful but brisk narratives bring his travels to life and readers feel that they are participants in an adventure as he experiences trees, their ecological and historical contexts, and the challenges of creating photographs of such difficult and special subjects. And Pakenham's color photographs are truly remarkable as he conveys the tactile aspect of bark, the sense of size or majesty, or the rare moment when the light is just right to capture the spirit of the tree. Chapters are further enhanced with historical illustrations (often, earlier views of the same trees) and snippets of poetry ranging from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Ogden Nash. Pakenham ends with a chapter on "Trees in Peril." This beautiful and unique book is sure to be appreciated by nature lovers. And though it is a highly personal work and not a scientific text, it demonstrates keen and accurate observation; it could also serve as an excellent supplement to studies in science, history, and geography.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pakenham took a break from writing such acclaimed historical works as The Scramble for Africa (1991) to indulge his fascination with the trees of Britain and Ireland, a passion that resulted in the best-selling Meeting with Remarkable Trees (1997). Buoyed by his success, Pakenham ventured further afield and sought out trees possessed of a "strong personality" in New Zealand, California, Madagascar, Botswana, Sri Lanka, Japan, Bavaria, Italy, and beyond, visiting and photographing one breathtaking living wonder after another. Charming and amusing in recounting his adventures, Pakenham nonetheless pays significant tribute to the extraordinary trees he portrays, relating their lore and protesting the many threats against their continued existence, as well as that of their less conspicuous brethren. By spotlighting trees notable for their godlike immensity (giant sequoias, redwoods, baobabs), tough compactness (dwarfs both natural and artificial), longevity (trees that are 4,600 years old), sacredness (trees as shrines), and trees of unusual configurations, locations, and histories, Pakenham inspires readers to cherish and protect the life-sustaining glory of all trees. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393325296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393325294
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.6 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing+ October 11, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I bought Pakenham's precursor to this book ("Meetings With Remarkable Trees"), I was astonished then. Now I've run out of superlatives, hence the plus sign suffixing the title of my review. As enjoyable as his poetic writing style is, that's just a bonus. The highly detailed photos in this book are, well, astonishing+. He uses a heavy, large-format camera, lugging it all around the world to photograph some of the most amazing trees on the planet. And as fine as the print quality was in "Meeting With Remarkable Trees", the print quality of this book surpasses the former. I am constantly amazed at the print quality of the best books being printed today, and this is right up there at the top of the heap. You'll swear you're looking at fine, lithographic prints. I am a fanatic tree lover to begin with, and this book is just glorious, and satisfies my wildest dreams for such a book. It gives me a sense of ecstasy over being alive.
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all tree lovers January 8, 2003
In "Remarkable Trees of the World" Thomas Pakenham has taken his personal love of trees and turned it into a remarkable book. By turns photo album, travelogue and field guide, this book transcends any one of these classifications and becomes something truly "remarkable" as a result.
First off, the photography is absolutely spectacular, and all the more impressive because the author took the pictures himself. Anyone who has wiled away the hours beneath the branches of a particularly noble arboreal friend, can't help but be enchanted by these shots. Reproduced with beautiful clarity and color, Pakenham succeeds in capturing the essence of each of his subjects.
Secondly, Pakenham's descriptions of how he came across these trees are engaging in their own right. The "World" in the title isn't just for show; he literally travels to the ends of the earth to capture his remarkable subjects. His musings about what trees reflect of the surrounding culture and geography are fascinating and engaging. While anyone who buys this book is clearly doing so for the photography, that doesn't mean that the writing is at all sub-par.
Finally, while this isn't a botanical study by any means, Pakenham does discuss some interesting aspects of tree-ring dating, conservation, and evolution. While no particular topic is considered in any great detail, he offers plenty of jumping off points for anyone interested in pursuing the subject matter in more detail.
"Remarkable Trees of the World" is a must have for any nature lover. Pakenham does a superb job of surveying a broad variety of trees, and there were several I'd never even heard of. Moreover, he offers great suggestions about which of these trees will survive where; I'm already looking forward to a more varied planting than I had planned on in my backyard this spring!
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Photography, Great Text, Great Subject Matter. April 22, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are trying to give a gift to someone who you really like, this book would be ideal - It's that good.
Briefly, this is a book of photographs of 60 trees scattered throughout the world that appeal to the author in some way. The photos are excellent and if you have ever tried to photograph a tree you will appreciate the thought and hard work that went into this book. The author includes photos of the biggest, the oldest, the holiest, and the oddest trees in the world. Ruminating about why he chose these particular trees is as fun as viewing the photos and text. Each photo is accompanied by well-written text that fleshes out the photos with historical, biological, or cultural information regarding each tree and its setting.
I found myself lost in time and space as I read this book and looked at the trees - which is probably what the author intended and why he calls these trees "remarkable".
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I read it after I had read Pakenham's first book, "Meetings With Remarkable Trees", which is even richer and better. I'm no tree-hugger but after reading these books I could be tempted.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love of Trees got bigger October 14, 2002
I heard Thomas speak at Swarthmore College this past Spring(2002)at the woody conference. I was tempted to leave early on this beautiful Friday afternoon, but my conscience prevailed for after all my job had sent me to this conference to learn some things. Was I glad I stayed to hear Thomas, what a delightful speaker and presenter. He had the audience spell-bound and of course we all wanted the book, which he did not have for sale at the event. Why, I cannot imagine, because I am positive he would have sold out.
This book is so wonderful it is almost impossible to describe, except he takes one to another level of appreciation for trees. I already loved trees and was almost arrested one time for trying to stop a huge stately live oak from being murdered to make way for, of all things, a Burger King. As if we needed one more hamburger stand. Anyway, Thomas showed me there are so many unusual trees around the world that I *must* see, but until I can travel, I can open that book and plan my adventures.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was just a couple of weeks ago that I went back to visit some of the wisest friends I know, the 4500+ year old Bristlecone Pine trees in California. I had met them a few years earlier, they had comforted me after a death in my immediate family by giving me some perspective. A short while later, I quit my job to travel the world for a couple of years. On that go round, I also visited a grove of tall trees in Redwood National Park - which had some former world record holders. I thought I had seen it all. The oldest, tallest, and in 1997, I had visited General Sherman - the largest (In volume). All of these are noted in the book with glorious photos.

Boy, was I wrong. I recently discovered another tree of distinction, also while in California. A moreton bay fig tree with a crown of 100+ feet, 75 feet tall. Magnificent. I've started to look at registers of trees, and then I found this book.

I've begun to realize there are so many more trees of distinction, and not just the ones he mentions. The author has helped open up my eyes to seeing the world in another different way. His prose, descriptions, and inclusion of historical photos makes for an enjoyable read. I like to repeat - "The true voyage of discovery, is not in going to new places, but in seeing with new eyes." - Proust. The author has succeeded in having that effect on me.

He finds glorious trees in Botswana, Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa / Japan, Sri Lanka, Turkey / France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden / Canada, USA, Mexico / Australia, and New Zealand.

I've had the fortune of visiting 10 of these countries in my life, but other than what I noted earlier, didn't particularly make an effort to seek other trees out. I will now.
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