New England Natives.
The reader is enticed into learning the taxonomic characteristics of the region's native trees through stories of people who used them creatively in their lives. From the building of birchbark canoes by the earliest natives to the crafting of great sailing ships and fine walnut clock cases in Colonial times, we learn how the subtleties of specific tree species were matched to needs for practical function and sheer beauty. As technology advanced in the new nation, the role of trees in the creation of new industries--textile weaving, railroads, and paper manufacture--is explored in fascinating detail. The author surely succeeds in her goal of "revealing the evolving interaction between the people and the plants of New England."
This book also serves as a guide to Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, a living natural-history museum in Boston.
Photographs from the Arboretum further enhances the book's engaging narrative and solid scientific foundation. Vivid color plates from early natural histories are exquisitely reproduced, reminding us that science and art are not strangers to one another in the hands of a natural historian.
For a long-time New Englander, the book is an eloquent insight into the landscapes of the region. But this is not a regional book for local readers only. Far more, in the tradition of Rachael Carson, it demonstrates the universal necessity of understanding natural history in cultural context. It is ecological understanding writ large, an important perspective to discover if we are to understand and achieve the new concepts of "ecosystem management."
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||May 1, 1994|
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