The Wild Trees - Richard Preston

The Wild Trees

By Richard Preston

  • Release Date: 2007-04-10
  • Genre: Earth Sciences
Score: 4.5
From 54 Ratings


Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the largest and tallest organisms the world has ever sustained–the coast redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens. Ninety-six percent of the ancient redwood forests have been destroyed by logging, but the untouched fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods have trunks up to thirty feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air.

Until recently, redwoods were thought to be virtually impossible to ascend, and the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, a world that is dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored.

The canopy voyagers are young—just college students when they start their quest—and they share a passion for these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that there’s nothing left to discover in North America), and they even make love in hammocks stretched between branches three hundred feet in the air.

The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers, hollowed out by fire, called “fire caves.” Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to one’s death.

Preston’s account of this amazing world, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction narrative. The author shares his protagonists’ passion for tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees—the story of the fate of the world’s most splendid forests and of the imperiled biosphere itself.


  • The Wild Trees

    By GrammaNut
    I purchased this book because it was written by Mr Preston. I have enjoyed all of the books I've read which were written by him. I quickly read the description and assumed this book was fiction and about people who lived in trees. I was wrong. This book is much more complex, and absolutely factual. From the beginning to the end it was interesting and exhilarating. It was a real page turner. I accidentally learned many facts while thoroughly enjoying this exciting story. I highly recommend this book.
  • Mind blowing

    By redschwinn
    Preston is truly the master of narrative non-fiction, breaking down and building up mind blowing concepts from the tiniest indiscriminate hot viruses to 370 foot ancient trees with oceanic plankton living in their crowns. Each book teaches me something new and this is one of his best works.
  • One of My All-Time Favorites

    By Medrese
    I love Preston's style of creative non-fiction, he can make just about anything interesting. This book was no different. He told the tale of the hunt for the world's largest trees, from the dawn of the movement to the present day. His descriptions are truly lovely, I couldn't put this book down.