Monday, June 1, 2009

Tree: A Life Story

Tree: A Life Story Tree: A Life Story by David Suzuki

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Often among scientists, there is a specialization snobbery. “Oh, you’re a chemist." [sneer:] "I’m a biologist." [nose in air:] And between the fields, they can’t see the forest for the trees. It is for that reason that I love ecological sciences. While scientists seek to understand their subject matter from the study of their mechanistic parts, ecology brings them back together—to their interrelated processes. It is a beautiful unity.

David Suzuki is one such scientist. This book is a meaty read, because Suzuki really delves into some plant biology. He then proceeds to weave it together with ecology as well as history. Specifically, the history or 500 year span of one Douglas fir tree. Not only does he describe the biological processes that make it’s existence possible, he describes the evolution of thought through this time—from the native relations with the tree to the medicinal uses of plants; from the growing knowledge of botany to ecosystems; and finally to the lumber industry and it’s effect on the ecosystem.

I did find myself wondering where the two authors were in the book—I could not easily discern their “voices.” And maybe that is just as well—making for a seamless story. And so I refer only to Suzuki—simply because I am familiar with his work. Suzuki’s love of life shines through in his writing, as well as in his tv series (The Nature of Things and The Sacred Balance) and his environmental activism. He is inspiring.

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  1. I've heard about that book, it always gets rave reviews, I must try to find it.

  2. Sarah, ya know, there are a couple other books with this title. I read this one while I read my daughter The Tree (a children's book) as part of our botany lessons. The other book with this title is like Suzuki's, I think. I didn't read it.

    This book could probably even be read by an older child who is interested in botany (Rose?). Suzuki has a way of making science interesting. I read sections to my daughter that interested her.