The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet

Jim Robbins. Random/Spiegel & Grau, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6906-4
In this scattered environmental call to action, New York Times science writer Robbins examines the “quiet crisis” of the loss of the world’s trees through the lens of Michigan tree farmer David Milarch and his champion tree project. “Champion” trees have the highest combined height, crown size, and diameter at human breast height. During a near-death experience brought on by a desperate attempt to sober up, Milarch claims to have been visited by angels, who return several months later to outline why they had sent him back to earth: to archive the largest, oldest, and strongest trees with the hopes of cloning forests of them to withstand climate change. Though the archive idea is sound, much of the book focuses on his personal story, and the reader is torn between the important science and the sensational Milarch. Robbins, unfortunately, makes it a priority to stand up for Milarch’s personal claims, even though he admits, “I didn’t need to believe that Milarch’s deus ex machina is real.” His overt propulsion of Milarch’s story detracts from the book’s important message: “planting trees may be the single most important ecotechnology that we have to put the broken pieces of our planet back together.” Agent: Stuart Bernstein, Stuart Bernstein Representation for Artists. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/2012
Release date: 04/17/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 125 pages - 978-1-58836-999-4
Ebook - 293 pages - 978-1-84765-903-3
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-8129-8129-2
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