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le 19 juin 2010
I purchased this book based on a newspaper interview with author, a botanical scientist who promotes the potential for forests to fight pollution, climate change and even human illness through their natural processes and products. I expected it to be a somewhat dry but informative guide to the practical botany of trees. It is in fact something completely different.
A slender volume (166 pages of text, including introduction), it is organized into forty "chapters" that are really 4-6-page essays on specific aspects of tree physiology or chemistry. But perhaps because of the Irish ancestry she references at the outset, with its tradition of storytelling, the form of the essays is far from scientific but rather that of almost mystical, poetic appreciation. They even begin with a subtitle "refrain" that captures the essence of each piece. Yes, the book is full of the amazing facts I was hoping to find - such as the existence of warm-blooded plants and the complex chemistry that trees have evolved in order to survive. And there is a hopeful theme of the potential to reverse global ecologic devastation through reforestation. But most of all this is the sensually and lovingly written ode of a passionate scientist, harking back to writers of more enlightened ages when this would not have been considered an oxymoron. Read it for the information, enjoy it for the style.