In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of these young voyagers, who risk everything to explore the redwood canopy, where the massive trees form flying buttresses and cathedral-like structures in the air. They find a vertical Eden of hanging gardens and rare creatures, an untouched paradise where it's possible to stretch hammocks between tree branches and make love 300 feet in the air. But as they move through the treetops suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, these young adventurers know that the smallest mistake can result in a plunge to one's death.
Preston mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to recount the discovery of this amazing world. This is a grand adventure, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, from a master of nonfiction narrative.
©2007 Richard Preston. All rights reserved; (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
"Preston's hands-on perspective, suspenseful chronicling of the adventures of these vividly portrayed redwood experts, and glorious descriptions of the tall trees' splendor and ecological significance make for a transfixing read." (Booklist)
From the way this book was promoted I expected to learn about the biology of redwood trees and the ecology of the west coast's great redwood forests. Instead I endured a series of Cosmopolitan style reminiscences by the members of a kind of counter-cultural group of tree climbers, who performed various acts of daring high above the ground (including screwing in the treetops!) It seemed obvious that Mr. Preston had done extensive interviews with these folks and then transcribed their accounts as faithfully as possible, including fulsome descriptions of their romantic entanglements and emotional travails in life. His reading did nothing to enhance my experience of the book. I eventually stopped listening. If you want to learn about the redwoods, I suggest you give the book a pass and look the trees up in Wikipedia instead. You'll find some extremely informative articles there, complete with neat photographs.
Sure, I love Richard Preston's writing.
This is just a magazine article stretched out to incredible, unnecessary lengths. I still don't know much about the life up in these unexplored canopies, but I know a lot -- much, much more than I want to know -- about the geeks who explored the canopies. Their eating habits, relationships, even how they had sex up in the canopies after getting married up there. Nerdville unleashed.
The author's voice was somewhat sibilant and dull.
It's an interesting subject matter, and an unknown one to most people, for sure. Who knew that the canopies of these massive trees, and even the trees themselves, have remained a mystery until a few intrepid people climbed them? Interesting. Learning all about their lives, not so much.
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