Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape

Jill Jonnes. Viking, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-670-01566-5
Environmental scholar Jonnes (Eiffel’s Tower) adopts a chronological and wide-reaching approach in explaining the logistical and political work done in the 19th and 20th centuries to establish, expand, understand, and celebrate the value and importance of the urban forests of America. Often taken for granted as a public resource, the “millions of trees found in any city’s streets, parks, cemeteries, campuses, yards, industrial areas, and vacant lots” have required great efforts to maintain them against the ravages of age, disease, and development. Jonnes often focuses on notable human individuals—popularizers of imported species, brilliant and battling researchers, explorers, politicians, and grassroots activists. But in the story of the relationships among trees, the mental and physical health of city dwellers, and the infrastructure of cities themselves, she also makes room for individual arboreal entities such as the Wethersfield elm and the 9/11 Survivor Tree; anchor species, including the chestnut and the American elm; and dramatic villains such as Dutch elm disease and the Asian long-horned beetle. Despite the book’s lack of explicit activism, readers will find that Jonnes’s appreciative attention to detail organically nurtures a newfound appreciation for our living arboreal neighbors and for the concerted determination it has taken to protect them. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 09/27/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-14-311044-6
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