The Wood for the Trees by Richard Fortey
One Man's Long View of Nature

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These long taxonomies could easily be dry and exhausting, but they come alive thanks to Fortey’s vivid descriptions.


From the author of Earth: An Intimate History, an exuberant "biography" of four acres of woodland, evoking a cosmos of living and inanimate things and imagining its millennia of existence

A few years ago, award-winning scientist Richard Fortey purchased four acres of woodland in the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire, England. The Wood for the Trees is the joyful, lyrical portrait of what he found there.

With one chapter for each month, we move through the seasons: tree felling in January, moth hunting in June, finding golden mushrooms in September. Fortey, along with the occasional expert friend, investigates the forest top to bottom, discovering a new species and explaining the myriad connections that tie us to nature and nature to itself. His textured, evocative prose and gentle humor illuminate the epic story of a small forest. But he doesn't stop at mere observation. The Wood for the Trees uses the forest as a springboard back through time, full of rich and unexpected tales of the people, plants, and animals that once called the land home. With Fortey's help, we come to see a universe in miniature.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Richard Fortey

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Richard Fortey is a senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Life was short-listed for the Rh„¢ne-Poulenc Prize in 1998, Trilobite! was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001, and The Hidden Landscape was awarded the Natural World Book of the Year in 1993. He was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize for science writing by Rockefeller University in 2004. He was Collier Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Bristol in 2002 and is now a Fellow of the Royal Society. He lives in London.
Published December 6, 2016 by Knopf. 320 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Rob Cowen on May 25 2016

These long taxonomies could easily be dry and exhausting, but they come alive thanks to Fortey’s vivid descriptions.

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