Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings
Published by: Johns Hopkins University Press
Imprint: John Hopkins University
Sales Date: 2022-05-03
Published: May 2022
Imprint: John Hopkins University
Page Count: 264 Pages
Illustrations: 3 b&w photos, 21 b&w illus.
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
264 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.70 in, 3 b&w photos, 21 b&w illus.
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What if the stories of trees and people are more closely linked than we ever imagined?
Winner of the World Wildlife Fund's 2020 Jan Wolkers PrizeOne of Science News's "Favorite Books of 2020" A New York Times "New and Noteworthy" BookA 2020 Woodland Book of the YearGold Winner of the 2020 Foreword INDIES Award in Ecology & EnvironmentBronze Winner of the 2021 Independent Publisher Book Award in Environment/Ecology
People across the world know that to tell how old a tree is, you count its rings. Few people, however, know that research into tree rings has also made amazing contributions to our understanding of Earth's climate history and its influences on human civilization over the past 2,000 years. In her captivating book Tree Story, Valerie Trouet reveals how the seemingly simple and relatively familiar concept of counting tree rings has inspired far-reaching scientific breakthroughs that illuminate the complex interactions between nature and people.
Trouet, a leading tree-ring scientist, takes us out into the field, from remote African villages to radioactive Russian forests, offering readers an insider's look at tree-ring research, a discipline known as dendrochronology. Tracing her own professional journey while exploring dendrochronology's history and applications, Trouet describes the basics of how tell-tale tree cores are collected and dated with ring-by-ring precision, explaining the unexpected and momentous insights we've gained from the resulting samples.
Blending popular science, travelogue, and cultural history, Tree Story highlights exciting findings of tree-ring research, including the fate of lost pirate treasure, successful strategies for surviving California wildfire, the secret to Genghis Khan's victories, the connection between Egyptian pharaohs and volcanoes, and even the role of olives in the fall of Rome. These fascinating tales are deftly woven together to show us how dendrochronology sheds light on global climate dynamics and uncovers the clear links between humans and our leafy neighbors. Trouet delights us with her dedication to the tangible appeal of studying trees, a discipline that has taken her to austere and beautiful landscapes around the globe and has enabled scientists to solve long-pondered mysteries of Earth and its human inhabitants.
2. Trees in the desert
3. I count the rings down in Africa
4. Adonis, Methuselah, and Prometheus
5. And the tree was happy
6. The Messiah, The Plague, and Shipwrecks Under the City
7. The Hockey Stick Posterchild
8. Wind of Change
9. Winter is coming
10. Three tree-ring scientists walk into a bar
11. Ghosts, Orphans, and Extra terrestrials
12. Disintegration or The Fall of Rome
13. It's the end of the world as we know it
14. Once upon a time in the West
15. Will the wind ever remember?
16. After the Gold Rush
17. The Forest for the Trees
List of Tree Species
"Trouet writes that the purpose of this book is to excite people about science, and she succeeds by creating an engaging, credible work sprinkled with anecdotes... With this brief, accessible look at the wisdom of tree rings, Trouet draws readers into a narrative that clearly displays her joy for her work and offers some fun with word play."
"An accomplished and globally recognized dendroclimatologist, Trouet is knowledgeable across diverse fields of science and is a talented writer and engaging storyteller. Drawing from a diversity of tree-ring research and interdisciplinary collaborations, Trouet chronicles fascinating examples of how dendrochronology helps to answer questions about past environments and human history."
"If you enjoy great science reads, add this one to your list. Now."
"Tree Story is a sublime example of what booksellers have lately started calling smart non-fiction: sophisticated academic books for a broad audience (often published by American university presses) that are just a few notches above the yuck- or wow-factor of more generic popular science. The excellent clarity and pacing that Trouet brings to this fascinating topic meant I that tore through Tree Story in a day. If I added ratings to my reviews, this book would be a ten out of ten. Already, this is a very strong contender for my book of the year"
"A persuasive, entertaining explanation of how the codes contained in tree rings reveal the wide-ranging effects of climate change."
"Tree Story gives readers a lively, sometimes visceral feel for Trouet's work."
"Tree Story is everything I had hoped it would be: intelligent, accessible, witty, and captivating—a global adventure spanning millennia and embracing a bevy of unexpected topics, all resulting from the study of tree rings."
"In her delightful Tree Story, dendrochronologist Valerie Trouet obliterates the layman's notion that tree rings provide little more information than a tree's age. What trees can teach seems limited only by science's ability to extract the information."
"Part memoir, part field diary, part lucid and engaging science communication, Tree Story moves from the finest micron-level of individual tree rings to the deep geological time of the planet and the world-wrapping forces of its climate. Trouet's account of her career, far from what we might imagine to be the dull work of counting tree rings, reads like an exciting adventure story, complete with far-flung locales, the ridiculous macho pretensions of male coworkers, and the ever present thrum of the ancient magic that seems to emanate from the trees themselves."
"The chapters spill over with information and would be overwhelming were it not for the book's organization, the images and digital illustrations, and the author's ability to share her scholarly adventures with such evident enjoyment."
"Enjoyable and accessible. Drawing on a rich array of examples from around the world, the lively book is full of thought-provoking discussion of our relationships with trees and the climate."
"Tree Story is a work of science, of graphs and statistics. But Trouet recounts too the personal thrill of discovery, the camaraderie and competitiveness of academic science, and the arduous nature of her research."
"Tree Story offers a passionate yet clear-eyed introduction into the field of dendrochronology."
"Tree Story is well-written, often with great phrasing and much humour, and gives a welcome insight into the people and personalities behind the science... [It's] another example of great science communication, often dealing with quite technical matters, but in an accessible way for both the non-specialist scientist and the intelligent lay person. But it's not just about great story-telling, Tree Story has much of pedagogic value as well, and would make a great text for a plants-and-people course."
"Here, we are taken on a fascinating journey through history, as remembered by the trees of the world. Trouet weaves together stories from the field and the lab to demonstrate that there is far more to studying tree rings than counting them."
"It's all in the tree rings—and trees don't lie."
"The book has already been reviewed and recommended in many places, and highlighted as an excellent work of popular science. Here I would like to recommend the book to be used as a textbook for students being exposed to scientific ideas and methods, to arouse their curiosity and show them how diverse fields like natural science and human history interact."
"Valerie Trouet's book is an excellent starting point to explore the relationships between trees and people and to look at the expectations and disappointments on the way to developing a way to communicate not only about but also with trees."
"If tree rings are the scribes of history, Valerie Trouet is their chief scrivener. Highly recommended."
"[Tree Story's] geeky enthusiasm... makes the entire book such a pleasure to read."
"Tree Story should be well-received by a variety of readers, professional and non-professional alike... The book is well-written and designed, with good pacing that intermixes entertaining and informative narrative in focused chapters that are not overlong."
"In this primer, a dendrochronologist explains how tree rings reveal the past via a science that exists 'at the nexus of ecology, climatology and human history.'"
- Foreword INDIES Award - Ecology & Environment
- IPPY Book Award Environment/Ecology
- Jan Wolkers Prize