Book Review: The Power Of Trees

The Power Of Trees, by Gretchen C. Dailey & Charles J. Katz Jr

In many ways, this is a strange book, an artistic look at trees that is more or less equally divided between elegant black and white photos of trees along the Skagit River region in Washington state and text that purports to be scientific that discusses the power and importance of trees, set in an artistic framework that includes large amounts of white space and a deliberate appeal to environmentalism by touting its use of post-consumer waste to reduce the amount of trees killed to make the book, which makes the book slightly less ironic than it would otherwise be without such a focus on sustainability.  The end result is a book that does not take long to read, but is precisely the sort of book that an environmentally conscious person in the Pacific Northwest would like to have on their coffee table for others to idly flip through and give approval to as far as having good taste in books to share with others.

In terms of the contents of the book itself, the pictures are immensely lovely.  While they would have been even more beautiful in color, as black and white photos there is a sense of old-fashioned grace and strength to the pictures of fallen trees, bare trees in meadows, trees along the Skagit River, trees with immensely complicated and beautiful root systems, and so on.  The photos are a particular strength of this book.  The text itself is a bit more of a mixed bag, as the author manages to convey a sense of the interconnectedness of trees and the intimacy of the relationship between trees and other beings like bees, birds, and mammals.  However, several times the author speculates on a chimerical arboreal ancestor that lived 80 million years ago that supposedly was more dependent on sight than smell, which influenced our own sensory output.  While the author may be praised for her erudition and her passion for trees, her bogus materialistic worldview makes this book a bit tiresome to read as it contradicts the spirituality she is seeking to purvey in support of the survival and dignity of trees.

How readers appreciate this book will depend on a lot of factors.  Those who have no interest in evolution will find a great deal in the book worthy of intense criticism given the author’s frequent speculation on the subject.  Those who paid for this book will likely find it not entirely worth their money with small amounts of dense text full of scientific jargon and elevated vocabulary and artistic black and white photos of trees along with large amounts of white space.  However, those who receive such a book as a gift or who read it from a library or on someone’s coffee table are likely to find the book an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes.  As is often the case, much depends on perspective.  The book is a bit too favorable for trees, especially given that it celebrates the self-defense abilities of trees even in the face of pestilence that has wiped out many breeds of trees completely across wide habitats, showing that despite the power of trees, they are also very vulnerable, a fact this author for obvious reasons does not wish to focus on [1].

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/book-review-the-natures-of-maps/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/a-family-of-trees-wanted-to-be-haunted/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/the-wind-rustles-through-the-trees/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/from-little-acorns-large-oak-trees-grow/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/book-review-the-bee-friendly-garden/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Book Review: The Power Of Trees

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