The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization

Roland Ennos. Scribner, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-982114-73-2
Ennos (Trees), a professor of biological sciences at the University of Hull, delivers an illuminating and fluidly written study of “the central role of wood in the human story.” Drawing from archaeology, anthropology, biomechanics, and architecture, among other academic fields, Ennos documents the links between trees and timber and a wide range of historical milestones, from the evolution of the human hand (primates developed soft pads on their fingertips and nails instead of claws in order to better grip tree branches) to the Boston Tea Party (inspired by an earlier riot in New Hampshire against British laws prohibiting the harvesting of large white pine trees). Ennos also examines the complexity of everyday wooden items; notes that the cellular structure of wood inspired the structure of plastics; and details the use of laminated wood in recent construction projects, including the Forte tower in Australia and the Richmond Olympic Oval in Canada. Extended discussions of bronze, wrought iron, steel, concrete, and plastics somewhat undermine the central argument that mankind has never fully left “the age of wood.” Still, this expansive history will give readers a newfound appreciation for one of the world’s most ubiquitous yet overlooked materials. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/15/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1456-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1458-3
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