The Story of Trees and how they changed the way we live is an informative and fascinating presentation of the most interesting trees in the world. It intertwines the botany and history of these 100 trees, their uses and benefits to mankind, their place in folklore, religion and culture with their place in the modern world. The material is presented with a pervading enthusiasm and makes for a very enjoyable read, best taken at a leisurely pace given the depth of research and breath of information it contains.
Trees have played a significant part in the lives of our ancestors and, though many may not realise it, they continue to play an important role in our lives today. They have provided and continue to provide food, medicines, toiletries, clothing, building materials and much more while significantly contributing to the health of the planet. This book is about our relationship with the trees of the world and is certain to inspire a greater appreciation of trees in the reader.
Each of the 100 entries is presented as a double-page entry, text on one and illustration on the other. The text is written to be interesting – and succeeds admirably – rather than presenting a comprehensive botanical treatment of each tree, propagation and cultivation notes etc. The book will certainly appeal to anybody who already possesses a good knowledge of trees and horticulture but will appeal equally to a wider readership and will likely make tree enthusiasts of them also.
The illustrations are of the pen and ink variety, each portraying the full tree with, perhaps, a leaf/fruit detail to the side. They capture the characters of the trees wonderfully though I feel the inclusion of some photographs would have enlivened and enriched the presentation. Nonetheless, this is an excellent book, wonderfully researched and simply brim-full of interesting material. It is an excellent read.
[The Story of Trees and how they changed the way we live, Kevin Hobbs & David West, Illustrated by Thibaud Herem, Laurence King Publishing, London, 2020, Hardback, 216 pages, £25, ISBN: 978-1-78627-522-6]