In this wholly original audiobook, biologist David Haskell uses a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window into 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 audiobook'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.
©2012 David George Haskell (P)2014 Tantor
"An extraordinary, intimate view of life...Exceptional observations of the biological world." (Kirkus Reviews)
"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...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] 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)
He loves the web of life. His stories of this life made me love it too. He tells of squirrels hanging out in the sun, teasing each other and just enjoying life. Of why pecans and hickories leaf out after other trees.
He even got me to love ticks. Most of them will die of thirst before I brush the grass top on which they lie in wait for me to give them a blood meal. They die trying.
He puts me in my place in the web of life. As large land critters, we are out of it. Most life is in wet or at least moist places. In water and soil. Places we know little about. Then he tells stories of tiny soil springtails and numerous nematodes and the important micorrhizal fungi that feed and connect plants. I had heard of all of them. I loved hearing their stories.
This book brightened up two tedious days of driving and car trouble.
When the book ended I was disappointed. So I got a similar book but it was droning professor with sloppy, out of date, ideas. A mediocre man, not a delightful one like Haskell So I returned it and am now looking for another delightful nature book. About the nature you need a microscope and a big picture vision to learn about.
This is one of my favorite listens for bedtime. The science is accurate and the reader has a relaxing voice. It may seem hard to believe that a year in the life of a small piece of old forest could be riveting, but it truly is. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Maybe I should have opted to read this one, rather than listen to it. It is a profoundly American book, written in American style and diction, so why choose a British actor to read it? He doesn't do a good job, and seems at time not to even understand what he is reading, which makes it difficult to listen to. Boo.
Field biologist in Appalachia writing in the first person read by an effete British actor. I couldn't make it through the first chapter, utterly incongruous. Impossible to believe that voice could ever be in that place.
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