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5.0 out of 5 starsWho Knew Trees Shared Resources?
Reviewed in Canada on October 31, 2016
Fascinating insight whether your are a gardener, hiker or farmer. There is a sense of wonder and hope throughout the book that keeps you from backsliding into despair, given all he poor choices mankind has made over the centuries. Those looking for activism should look elsewhere, that is not the tone of the book. I usually find "systems thinking" boring for any topic, but it works really well here. The small physical size of the book was a welcome change. I have not read one since Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture". We need more non-fiction books in this format. This new knowledge will definitely slow down my walks through forests, and that's a good thing.
5.0 out of 5 starsAbsolutely Fascinating! A walk in the forest will never be the same
Reviewed in Canada on October 31, 2016
Absolutely fascinating! I have to admit I was initially thrown by the description of "mother trees" and "children" trees but treating trees like people does revolutionize the way one looks at trees and the forest. The writing is engaging, captures your imagination but also is backed by solid, fascinating science, he paints a picture of very complex, interdependent living community. Really worth reading! A walk in the forest will never be the same.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis is a must read for all wanting to understand our place in the universe
Reviewed in Canada on August 2, 2017
It is hard to believe this beautifully written book is a translation. The prose is impeccable and the explanations of even the most scientific information are clearly and simply presented. I've been living surrounded by natural forest since 2001 and have always felt a certain agelessness when walking in the woods. In my younger days of canoe camping, I always felt at home in the woods. This book has helped me understand why.
1.0 out of 5 starsNot what I'd hoped for in a book about trees
Reviewed in Canada on November 3, 2018
I thought it to be terribly, terribly repetitive, self-serving and unremarkable as the perspective of one who has made his living in the company of trees. I expected a lot more. It didn't deliver on the convincing theory of trees as a community, a society unto themselves. Would definitely NOT recommend this book. I actually dragged myself through it, waiting for it to get better; It didn't. I believe that at some level the writer does really feel he loves trees but what we heard of mostly was his experience (as he often titled it) of "managing" the forest. I'm sorry. I might have been looking for something else, something that really honoured the trees instead of looking at them as (constantly-mentioned) "manageable" things.
5.0 out of 5 starsTrees look different after reading this book..
Reviewed in Canada on October 17, 2017
I really love this book. I have for a long time believed that trees are truly living, breathing forms of life and this writer brings that to life for me. He is a forrester in Germany and travels thru forests in Europe. He describes the intricate way in which everything is connected and bound together. He describes the way trees "communicate, care for the young, fend off predators" and much much more. It completely changes how you will see trees and also the critical importance of forests. And yes when I described what I was reading my friend got a strange look in her face but his book is steeped in science.My respect and awe for the soil when I garden has deepened. Like I said I love this book!
This book shows trees as creatures, rather than just decoration or things that stay in one place and don't move. If you are a vegetarian, you probably SHOULD NOT READ THIS. Ignorance will be bliss. Because, if trees are just as alive as any other animal, and can talk to each other, what are you going to eat...? I've already said too much! Please enjoy your salad =D
This book reveals so much about the secret lives of one of our most wonderful resources .THE TREES! My congrats to the publisher(s) who published this book. Even more congrats to the writers and collaborators who contributed toward making this book understandable, entertaining and knowledgeable for my neophyte knowledge about trees and their lives on our planet. I'm from the Plains states of north America and longed always for more trees in a place that is somewhat harsh for trees other than the most hardy against high winds, scorching summers, dry falls, and harsh winter conditions.. Trees are totally remarkable with all of their well kept secrets now revealed, at least in part through this book. And thanks also to Dr. Simard of Univ. British Columbia for her contributions as well as the others who helped the author. A superlative effort all the way around.. Thank you.. I'll probably have more praise when I finish it.MEANWHILE, look for me with my nose in this book.
This book offered a fascinating insight, into the world of plant behaviour. Plant behaviour itself is a somewhat new field of study. Wohlleben takes the reader through all the details, regarding his forest management.
Germans tend to have strange cultural adherence to trees and forests. Similar to Anglos and their dogs. So the reader has to endure a rather overzealous forester. But putting that aside, most readers will enjoy this book.
There are enough reviews already posted. So there is no need to relist the book's details. Wohllean did miss on one area regarding the Borea Forest and forest fires. But the Borea Forset is outside of his area of expertise. And it was irrelevant to the book`s theme of plant behaviour. This book will change your view regarding forests. And it was fun to read.
5.0 out of 5 starsHighly recommended - fascinating and explore a new ancient world
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 18, 2016
Many of us have an inner feeling and connection with the world of trees and the environment. This fascinating insight in to the underground world of trees comes alive through the author's knowledge and great understanding brought about by his enthusiasm for the subject that becomes absorbing. I started with the summary version and was left disappointed as it lacked the narrative and was more factual with no depth but this book leads you along the path of an explorer that opens up a whole new hidden world of which we have little knowledge. I highly recommend this book if you care for the environment and are a nature lover as this will change your outlook and you will never look at a tree and plants in the same way as you did before. There is so much we don't know about trees and this book opens a door to explore a new world that has been going on for centuries upon centuries and continues although with more and more difficulty as man defaces the landscape, this affect changes the pattern of nature and wildlife. It's a must read!
5.0 out of 5 starsI live a very simple life and this book talks to me like no other
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 29, 2017
Everyone should make time to read this book. It satisfies the soul. I live a very simple life and this book talks to me like no other. It sounds namby pamby but honestly, read it and understand the place trees have in this universe. I have loaned this book to a much younger relative, who typically has read crime novels and the like. She contacted me after reading and said " thank you for telling me to read this book. I think you just changed my life"!
4.0 out of 5 starsVery interesting material but could have been polished a bit more
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2019
I had been meaning to read The Hidden Life of Trees for some time now, and finally made the opportunity. Broadly speaking, it did not disappoint, except in two specific areas that I'll talk about later.
Peter Wohlleben has worked with trees for years, mostly in Germany, and is convinced that they exhibit behaviours far more complex than we usually reckon, behaviours that we normally associate with higher animals and birds than with plants. He describes how they communicate, both chemically through scent and electrically via their root systems and fungal symbiotes. They can also support each other in times of hardship and old age, count daylight hours, perceive environmental changes and opportunities, and remember important facts in order to shape future actions. It all makes for fascinating reading, and the material is well worth exploring.
What also came home to me was how little we know about the life of trees, largely because the timescale they live on is so slow compared to ours. But another factor which Peter highlights many times is that many of us never meet a tree in its natural state - as one part in a naturally regulated and extensive forest. Isolated trees, or those in small stands, or those living in managed woodland, are all constrained to live unnatural lives, so their growth and actions are as distorted from natural as ours would be if we were kept away from human company as we grew up. It's a rather sobering thought, that our typical treatment of trees might easily be considered cruelty.
Peter also highlights areas where our grasp of ordinary tree biology is very weak. It is common knowledge that trees draw water and nutrients out of the soil using their roots, and deliver it to their leaves and growing shoots - for some trees this is a journey of tens, or even a couple of hundred feet. It comes as a surprise to read that we don't actually know how they do this, and that the normal explanations of osmosis, capillary action, or transpiration cannot possibly account for the heights reached.
One of the most vivid parts was Peter's attempt to get to linguistic grips with the slowness of the life cycles of trees. He describes very effectively the grand migrations of forests south and north as the ice ages have come and gone, and the stages by which newly available soil is occupied first by the little plants, then by comparatively fast outlier trees, and finally by the true forests. On this timescale, some kinds of trees help one another and grow together, while others hinder and displace each other. It would make a good game, perhaps, as well as a good read, in which environmental and other external changes drive constant accommodation and negotiation.
I mentioned two things that put me off the book. The first is the writing style, which for the first half is quite pedestrian. I fully appreciate that Peter may not be writing in his native language, and the wealth of ideas kept me persevering when the writing was dull - perhaps it would have been good to have employed a co-writer to help. The second was that I would have really liked some speculation about causes, in the many areas where we don't know for sure. Peter seems committed to writing only what he is confident can be tied to evidence - which is a worthy goal in itself - but given his great experience in the field, I would have liked it more if he had included his guesses, intuitions, and suppositions.
All things considered, though, The Hidden Life of Trees is a fascinating book to delve into, perhaps as a starting point for other reading.
5.0 out of 5 starsAbsolutely wonderful book, in a highly readable way tells the story of species collaboration in a forest.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 28, 2018
An absolutely wonderful book, in an accessible, readable way tells the story of the collaboration in a multi-species forest ecosystem. I deeply loved this book, and the writing style is eminently readable and emanates a contagious empathy for the forest ecosystem whilst tracing the author's personal story of going from "traditional forestry" with forest as a factory producing wood pulp to a holistic understanding of the forest as a living ecosystem a meta-organism.
One of those books which in a subtle way alters your perception of reality and deepens your understanding of nature and thus of humanity itself.
Mawkish, sentimental, not one piece of scientific evidence given, anthropomorphic attributes endlessly applied, I don't know if it's the translation or just a shallow superficial writing style that makes this an uncomfortable read
5.0 out of 5 starsNever view a forest or wood with the same eyes again.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 30, 2016
I couldn't put the book down. It gave an insight into the relationships between trees and undergrowth in forests, and gave me a new outlook on the trees that surround me even the "street kids" in my area. I hope to go to the New Forest and my local wood and take a new look, through new eyes at my surroundings and will watch any changes with clear knowledge. Recommend, as a must read for any nature lovers and those who want to expand their understanding.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2017
Very interesting book. I was actually looking for secret ways to talk to trees but its about how the tree lives and survive. Easy to follow for the layman and very well written, not at all boring. I knew nothing about trees, this really enlightened me.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2017
Wonderful book for anybody who has ever felt an affinity with trees and the life of a woodland. In every chapter, Wohlleben reveals new insights about the hidden life of trees from his experience as a forester in Central Europe. Full of accessibly presented science and visionary flights from the springboard of that science, giving a deeper understanding of the place of trees on the planet and hope for sensitive conservation if these insights are heeded now and in the future. A delight to any tree-lover. Wohlleben's findings made sense of my own sensations of calm and belonging in deciduous forests as opposed to a feeling of unnatural barren discomfort when walking near arid lines of planted conifers. Recommend to anyone who seeks to explore beneath the surface of the familiar to root for hope and insight.
The botanical facts in this book could have been very interesting, but the anthropomorphism was intolerable and completely detracted from the rest. Trees are not sentient beings and should not be portrayed as such.
5.0 out of 5 starsFirst of a kind book about Trees and Plants and beyond.
Reviewed in India on January 20, 2017
We all know trees. They are everywhere - In Delhi , London , Germany , Mexico , Sahara , Antarctica and wherever there is life. The author tellls us that trees have life ,not the life which we study in school but something entirely different. Trees are social beings and all of them communicate. Much of our plant life in India has been mapped and documented but very little of its ecology,the relationship between living things and their surroundings. It seems such a shame that Indian forest departments have been notoriously inimical to independent scientific research.
Reading the book widened my thinking about trees and now whenever I look at any tree or plant I just smile at them and thank them for keeping us alive :-)
4.0 out of 5 starsIts a good book for people with an interest for trees & ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2017
Its a good book for people with an interest for trees & forests (like me). I got the English version (don't know why) and must say that the translation from German is not perfect in some minor areas. But let's not be fussy - it's a great read!
5.0 out of 5 starsTruly fascinating and life-changing insights and description of trees and forests
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 17, 2019
This is an exceptionally intelligent, eye-opening, and life changing work. It is written to be enjoyed by any thoughtful reader, but demonstrates a level of expertise to meet the needs of the botanist, scientist, or philosopher. The picture that emerges of nature, and of trees in their forest life, in particular, is extraordinary. Forests emerge as a single united organism, trees as sensorial lifeforms that are woven into communication and support complexes supporting an immense biodiversity. This may be one of the three or four most vital books you will read in your life. Astonishing.
Why people have to give a book one star only because it's "above their understanding" is beyond me. That one star should go to the reviewer, not to the book. Then, about five people gave this book rave reviews accompanied by two stars. ????? And then there were reviewers who first cited their multiple PhD's, BS's and Masters degrees, to show they are REAL scientists, and then went on to say that that is why they are all rattled and horrified by the simplicity and anthropomorphism of Wohlleben's approach.
Let's please grow up. A grey and dour, soulless "scientific" approach to a subject will not engage average mortals, and those are the ones who need to know. The wish for such an approach doesn't identify you as a scientist either; it identifies you as a grey and dour, soulless person with no interest in mystery. This book is not written for you.
This book is written for normal people, who are interested in trees and nature and not afraid of learning facts that upset their worldview, and who are willing to accept that there are things we cannot, yet or fully, explain. This relatively recent field, of the interconnectedness of trees and of the forest as a giant organism, is unbelievably interesting and will, no, must, have far reaching consequences for our thinking about the environment, and by extension for our thinking about ourselves. I am not a scientist, and I don't care for a purely scientific approach to life. I am also not afraid of anthropomorphism - it is a valuable tool for us humans (anthropoi) to understand the world around us. Already 2,500 years ago Protagoras revolutionized philosophical thinking by positing that "man is the measure of all things". For most of us, that will remain the norm for a long time to come.
Also, trees are not aliens, they are more like us than we think. There is a lot in the trees' behavior that they share with us. The need to survive powerfully and procreate is common between man and tree.
Wohlleben writes beautifully and lyrically. That is not a sin and doesn't take away from his being a consummate scientist. One can be a scientist and at the same time be in awe of mystery.
In a very recent interview with The Guardian, Wohlleben said "scientists over the last 200 years have taught us that nature works without soul.” This book successfully discredits that approach, which has been ready for the scrap heap for too long.
This is a terrific book that can be fascinating to scientists and non-scientists alike. It has enough footnotes to allow for wider study of the subject for the intellectually adventurous.
The collaboration of Wohlleben and Dr Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada has led to a TV documentary on the subject, "Intelligent Trees". The DVD is available on Amazon.
4.0 out of 5 starsFull of the most surprising information
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 14, 2020
I didn't find it either as badly written as some of the reviews said or as wonderful as the others. Unquestionably it was full of information that I didn't know, that was unexpected, and that will change fundamentally my experience of woodland walks. The writer appears to know a great deal about the subject trees, but also, their history (even to individual trees), where they like to grow, how much forest soil is lost every year, which trees like to grow where etc etc. So it is absorbing and astonishing. Like anything as heavily factual and evidenced readers have to pause. Even so, how much I will retain is a question. Undoubtedly, however, my view of trees, their complexity, existence, environments, root systems, parasites, chosen spots, chances of life have been radically changed. So, a good book, then.