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Publisher's Summary

Donald Culross Peattie's two books about American trees were first published in the 1950s. In this edition, modern listeners are introduced to one of the best nature writers of the last century. As we listen to Peattie's descriptions, we catch glimpses of our country's history and past daily life that no textbook could ever illuminate so vividly. Here you'll learn about everything from how a species was discovered to the part it played in our country's history.

Pioneers often stabled an animal in the hollow heart of an old sycamore, and the whole family might live there until they could build a log cabin. The tuliptree, the tallest native hardwood, is easier to work than most softwood trees; Daniel Boone carved a sixty-foot canoe from one tree to carry his family from Kentucky into Spanish territory. In the days before the Revolution, the British and the colonists waged an undeclared war over New England's white pines, which made the best tall masts for fighting ships.

It's fascinating to learn about the commercial uses of various woods - for paper, fine furniture, fence posts, matchsticks, house framing, airplane wings, and dozens of other preplastic uses. But we cannot listen to this book without the occasional lump in our throats. The American elm was still alive when Peattie wrote, but as we listen to his account today we can see what caused its demise. Audubon's portrait of a pair of loving passenger pigeons in an American beech is considered by many to be his greatest painting. It certainly touched the poet in Donald Culross Peattie as he depicted the extinction of the passenger pigeon when the beech forest was destroyed. A Natural History of North American Trees gives us a picture of life in America from its earliest days to the middle of the last century. The information is always interesting, though often heartbreaking. While Peattie looks for the better side of man's nature, he reports sorrowfully on the greed and waste that have doomed so much of America's virgin forest.

©2007 Houghton Mifflin Company. Foreword copyright 2007 by Mark R. Peattie. Introduction copyright 2007 by Verlyn Klinkenborg. Copyright 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, and 1964 by Donald Culross Peattie. Copyright renewed 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981 by Noel Peattie. Copyright 1950 and 1953 by Paul H. Landacre. Copyright renewed 1977 by Joseph M. Landacre. Compilation and revisions copyright 2007 by the estate of Donald Culross Peattie. (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A good review of NA silva

As an amateur botanist and ecologist, I highly recommend this book. It is worth the credit and time. It is a bit dated, but it provides useful ethnobotanical information on more than 200 tree species.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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amazing

Compelling information of trees in a story telling format. The story telling format makes it easy to remember the information, even weeks later.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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What they don't teach in school

I had no idea, and am betting it's the same for most people. We've had some amazing trees in North America. The destruction of many types was far worse than I anticipated.

The stories of these trees enchant. This is unlike any other book on the subject, and it was written so many years ago.

Narration was perfect for this book, I think.

The way I listened was to jump around the chapters because nothing is lost doing so.

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Taxonomic approach not engaging

The writer takes a taxonomic approach -- discussing one tree species at a time.
He lists the range in which it is found, its uses and other tidbits.
Not an engaging listen.

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  • Dena
  • AUSTIN, TX, United States
  • 02-08-17

Great writer, great reader.

what an interesting book. Such poetry about trees. You just can't go wrong with Kevin Stillwell.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Writing from Another Time

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The writing in this book is much more flowery than I was expecting.
If someone likes that sort of almost reminiscing flowery writing, they might like this book.

Has A Natural History of North American Trees turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not really. I enjoyed the Botany of Desire.

What about Kevin Stillwell’s performance did you like?

For the writing, he handled the narration well.

What character would you cut from A Natural History of North American Trees?

Does Not Apply

1 of 3 people found this review helpful