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Publisher's Summary

2019 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

Canadian botanist, biochemist, and visionary Diana Beresford-Kroeger's startling insights into the hidden life of trees have already sparked a quiet revolution in how we understand our relationship to forests. Now, in a captivating account of how her life led her to these illuminating and crucial ideas, she shows us how forests can not only heal us but save the planet.

When Diana Beresford-Kroeger - whose father was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and whose mother was an O'Donoghue, one of the stronghold families who carried on the ancient Celtic traditions - was orphaned as a child, she could have been sent to the Magdalene Laundries. Instead, the O'Donoghue elders, most of them scholars and freehold farmers in the Lisheens valley in County Cork, took her under their wing. Diana became the last ward under the Brehon Law. Over the course of three summers, she was taught the ways of the Celtic triad of mind, body, and soul. This included the philosophy of healing, the laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom, and the Ogham alphabet, all of it rooted in a vision of nature that saw trees and forests as fundamental to human survival and spirituality. 

Already a precociously gifted scholar, Diana found that her grounding in the ancient ways led her to fresh scientific concepts. Out of that huge and holistic vision have come the observations that put her at the forefront of her field: the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate.

This book is not only the story of a remarkable scientist and her ideas, it harvests all of her powerful knowledge about why trees matter, and why trees are a viable, achievable solution to climate change. Diana eloquently shows us that if we can understand the intricate ways in which the health and welfare of every living creature is connected to the global forest, and strengthen those connections, we will still have time to mend the self-destructive ways that are leading to drastic fires, droughts, and floods.

©2019 Diana Beresford-Kroeger (P)2019 Random House Canada

What the critics say

“In her youth in Ireland, Diana Beresford-Kroeger received an extraordinary and unique education in traditional Celtic plant lore. At university in Canada, she specialized in biochemistry and merged what she learned and observed into her signature studies of trees, augmented by First Nation forest wisdom. This autobiography of learning ways to heal the damaged earth and break the tightening grip of climate crisis offers a rational and inclusive way to keep our future.” (Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News)

“Diana Beresford Kroeger has given readers a rare gift: an inspiring tale about trees, trauma and the very purpose of life. Her Celtic story works on you like a good walk in a pine forest: You can’t help but feel invigorated afterwards.” (Andrew Nikiforuk, award-winning journalist)
 

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What listeners say about To Speak for the Trees

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A beautiful gift

Thank you Diana Beresford-Kroeger for sharing your story and knowledge. What a treat to listen to! The recording is clear and of great quality. There are no bells / whistles / musical interludes. Ms. Beresford-Kroeger's voice is clear and easy to follow. I bought this book on a whim without reading the description properly as I love anything to do with forests. I was unprepared for how her story and knowledge has touched me. I now pledge to learn the Irish Gaelic alphabet and memorise and apply tree knowledge to my own life! If you are fascinated with forests, plants, biology, ancient cultural knowledge and stories of human resilience this book is for you. I can't say enough about it. I am very sad that I reached the end of this book and can't wait to read more from her. A fantastic and generous addition to the library of humanity.

7 people found this helpful

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Amazing! A must read!

Is the best book I have read and listen to by far in a very long time probably ever as an Irish person it’s wonderful to hear about the lost and colonized world of the Irish if you’re interested in your own roots as an Irish person or as a Pegan I would definitely recommend this book also if you are interested in health foraging and holistic healing this book I would recommend with highest esteem. Thank you Diana for your beautiful work I hope that you continue to share more druid wisdom culture lost and still well alive and theSecrets of our ancestors

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent Listen

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about the old folk ways of Ireland, druidry, herbalism/plant medicines, getting to know and understand the plant peoples and to listen to a beautiful story narrated by the author herself. Moving, insightful, and full of wisdom, this book is up there in my list of books worth having both physical and audio copies of so that I can share it with others. Simply beautiful.

3 people found this helpful

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Incredible book, Loved it!

I loved listening to this book, the author did an amazing narration and everything she talks about is fascinating. I am looking forward to listening to it again. Thank you for sharing your words with us Diana!

1 person found this helpful

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Profound.

This woman is a true Heroine. Her words, and humble yet powerful offerings and suggestions, could alter the future, for a possiblity of thriving on this blessed planet. Please read this.

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her message is vital, but...

her content is vital to our planet but the book couldn't really decide what it wanted to be. is it a life story or about Celtic wisdom or about saving the trees? or maybe the defense of a gilted scientist from academia, still vying to be taken seriously? anyway, I am still entirely motivated to plant my 6 trees or more. so it had the desired impact.

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Extrodinary Book About An Extrodinary Human

How the hell have I never heard of her before? I am humbled that she is ours, we should treasure her and freaking listen to her!

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Add it to your list

I walked into this book without expectations or hearing anything about it other then from a Bookstagram account that had a super brief review. I really enjoyed the mix of Irish Celtic wisdom with the science aspects from a botanist and biochemist. If you are trying to get anyone to understand why trees are not only vital for our clean air but the homes of many species and how they provided nutrients into the water for sea life and how we are not only committing genocide by clear cutting forests the world over but we are actively choosing to end our lives by decimating the very place that gives us our life with cold callousness in the capitalistic game countries are trying to win. It’s shameful, terrifying and yet hopeful. We can make a difference we can stop the massacre if we do it together. I highly recommend this book.

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  • LR3
  • 2021-07-20

Love this book!!

I really enjoyed this book, I will never look at trees the same way.
Thank you Diana Beresford-Kroeger

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FANTASTIC!

This is a must read/listen. I enjoyed every second of this book. Well written and I did not want it to end. So rich in knowledge and literary prose.

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  • Anne Milligan
  • 2020-07-27

Deeply moving!

I'm not sure I've ever been so taken up by a book in all my life. Listening to it being read, late at night, felt like I was being carried away on an ancient dream of another lifetime and I remembered who I am, and where I've been. I'm not sure that anyone else's experience will be like mine, but I recommend this precious story, from a beautiful soul who has suffered so much, and yet has been gifted to us, for hers and our, healing. So grateful.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Hassel Haus
  • 2020-07-18

treasure

this book is a true treasure and a must read for us all. trees hold my heart and learning how to support their survival and honor their role in our world is so important. this book gives us so much information to help and knowledge that we should pass on for generations.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Penrose
  • 2020-01-26

Ancient Wisdom Growing on Living Land

In her charming Irish voice DB-K reads her magical life's story with the resulting compendium of botanical hea!ing know!edge coming through her lineage of Celtic and Druidic bloodlines, p!us a lifetime of diligent scientific study, research, and experimentation. Highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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  • tara
  • 2020-09-10

An absolute gem

Was enthralled with this book from start to finish. The author has such a unique perspective, bringing a magical element to her scientific experience. As an Irish descendent who deeply appreciates both science and folklore, this book really spoke to me. She animates the natural world in a way that inspires a deep appreciation and reverence for nature that will hopefully compel readers to take action towards environmental protection! I purchased both the audible version and the hardcover, as this will be a much referenced book in my library.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 2020-07-26

Unique life and sprirt

I am happy the authoress did the narration. She is a generous super intelligent woman who has had many struggles and traumas and has added discoveries to her field of study as well. Learned a lot about forests and why we need ancient trees. She is worthy of a Nobel Prize.

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  • Diana
  • 2020-12-28

Loved it!

Exuberantly glad I found this book. It was like coming home to an important part inside my soul.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-09-07

The world needs this

Everyone should read this book and take the advice, planting acorns in my yard tomorrow.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca C.
  • 2022-07-03

Lovely to listen to, like having an Irish friend

Her Irish accent and her vocal cadence are lovely and warm. I find myself re-listening just for that. I was gripped by the first part of the book- especially her story of growing up an orphan. I wanted to know more about her story and I wanted to know more about the teachings she received about the Brehan laws. I thought things fizzled out more towards the end but I am someone who really enjoys autobiographies so maybe that is why.

I did enjoy hearing about Ogham writing and the trees/vines/reed symbolic, medicinal, and cultural associations. This portion of the book read to me as more of a reference and in my opinion it was more difficult to sustain attention and follow -at least in an audiobook format. The details about each letter/tree/vine etc were still very interesting.

I would like also for there to be a PDF of the Ogham script And a chart of the symbolic associations for easy reference that would be nice.

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  • Arrow
  • 2022-06-08

a thing of beauty

I hope the author narrates the rest of her books!! what an amazing message and her voice only helps convey her passion and personality

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  • Daniel. F. Rockwell
  • 2022-05-23

To Speak for the Trees

This is the most extensive book about the wonders of how important our natural world exists to guide our planets life forces! Enjoyed immensely & will keep this download as a reference in my hobby as a tree naturalist & each known species importance for survival of the natural world. Loved the 7th generation theory of sustainability in harvesting trees properties!