April 21, 2020
9.00 Inches (US)
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v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
April 21, 2020
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$27.00 USD, £20.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Tree Story

The History of the World Written in Rings

Children around the world know that to tell how old a tree is, you count its rings. Few people, however, know that research into tree rings has also made amazing contributions to our understanding of Earth's climate history and its influences on human civilization over the past 2,000 years. In her captivating new book, Tree Story, Valerie Trouet reveals how the seemingly simple and relatively familiar concept of counting tree rings has inspired far-reaching scientific breakthroughs that illuminate the complex interactions between nature and people.

Trouet, a leading tree-ring scientist, takes us out into the field, from remote African villages to radioactive Russian forests, offering readers an insider's look at tree-ring research, a discipline formally known as dendrochronology. Tracing her own professional journey while exploring dendrochronology's history and applications, Trouet describes the basics of how tell-tale tree cores are collected and dated with ring-by-ring precision, explaining the unexpected and momentous insights we've gained from the resulting samples.

Blending popular science, travelogue, and cultural history, Tree Story highlights exciting findings of tree-ring research, including the fate of lost pirate treasure, successful strategies for surviving California wildfire, the secret to Genghis Khan's victories, the connection between Egyptian pharaohs and volcanoes, and even the role of olives in the fall of Rome. These fascinating tales are deftly woven together to show us how dendrochronology sheds light on global climate dynamics and uncovers the clear links between humans and our leafy neighbors. Trouet delights us with her dedication to the tangible appeal of studying trees, a discipline that has taken her to austere and beautiful landscapes around the globe and has enabled scientists to solve long-pondered mysteries of Earth and its human inhabitants.

About the Author

Valerie Trouet is a professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona.


"Trouet is at her best when recounting field experiences or telling stories about fortuitous discoveries in the lab. Readers worldwide who enjoy popular science and its links to human history will enjoy this book."

- Sarah Boon, hydroecologist / science writer / editor, Watershed Moments

"Extolling the virtues of dendrochronology as a laudable tool for unlocking the secrets of natural and human history, this refreshing book will interest anyone who wants to understand the meaning of their existence, the miracle of life, and the beautiful ways in which our natural history has brought humans to our current state of civilization."

- Paul J. Krusic, University of Cambridge

"A witty and engaging book that brings the story of tree rings to a wider audience."

- Neil Pederson, Harvard Forest, Harvard University

"Trouet does a splendid job of elucidating the connections between dendrochronology (the precise dating of tree rings to the calendar year when they were formed) and advances in climatology, hydrology, archaeology, ecology, and history. A significant contribution and overview of dendro-science writ large. Engagingly written; the scholarship is highly commendable."

- Henry F. Diaz, emeritus research meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"Perfect for scientifically curious readers, Tree Story is a fascinating book about a field that has made major contributions to our understanding of past societies, as well as our current climate predicament."

- Amy Hessl, West Virginia University

"Beautifully captures the balance between science and engaging narrative. There are no similar books that tell the exciting story of dendrochronology."

- Erika Wise, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

"As Valerie Trouet explains in this beautifully written book, one of the best ways to understand the magnitude of today's climate crisis is to burrow into the bark of old trees. Trouet eloquently guides readers through this exciting science, revealing not only how science is done but also how scientists think, how they respond to moments of inspiration and disappointment, and how their careers may unfold in surprising ways. This book is a timely love letter to a discipline and to the academic way of life."

- Dagomar Degroot, Georgetown University / Climate History Network, author of The Frigid Golden Age: Climate Change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560–1720

"For anyone who has been intrigued by the growth rings in a tree stump, this book is for you. Dr. Trouet, a renowned scholar, weaves together science and adventure as she unlocks the many secrets hidden in the hearts of trees."

- Lisa J. Graumlich, Dean, College of the Environment, University of Washington


"Trouet writes that the purpose of this book is to excite people about science, and she succeeds by creating an engaging, credible work sprinkled with anecdotes... With this brief, accessible look at the wisdom of tree rings, Trouet draws readers into a narrative that clearly displays her joy for her work and offers some fun with word play."

- Library Journal

"An accomplished and globally recognized dendroclimatologist, Trouet is knowledgeable across diverse fields of science and is a talented writer and engaging storyteller... Drawing from a diversity of tree-ring research and interdisciplinary collaborations, Trouet chronicles fascinating examples of how dendrochronology helps to answer questions about past environments and human history."

- Lori Daniels - Science

"If you enjoy great science reads, add this one to your list. Now."

- Nature's Cool Green Science

"A persuasive, entertaining explanation of how the codes contained in tree rings reveal the wide-ranging effects of climate change."

- Shelf Awareness

"April 2020 New and Noteworthy Book"

- New York Times

"Part memoir, part field diary, part lucid and engaging science communication, Tree Story moves from the finest micron-level of individual tree rings to the deep geological time of the planet and the world-wrapping forces of its climate. Trouet's account of her career, far from what we might imagine to be the dull work of counting tree rings, reads like an exciting adventure story, complete with far-flung locales, the ridiculous macho pretensions of male coworkers, and the ever present thrum of the ancient magic that seems to emanate from the trees themselves."

- Anna Reser - Lady Science

"Tree Story is a sublime example of what booksellers have lately started calling smart non-fiction: sophisticated academic books for a broad audience (often published by American university presses) that are just a few notches above the yuck or wow-factor of more generic popular science. The excellent clarity and pacing that Trouet brings to this fascinating topic meant I that tore through Tree Story in a day. If I added ratings to my reviews, this book would be a ten out of ten. Already, this is a very strong contender for my book of the year"

- Inquisitive Biologist

"Enjoyable and accessible... Drawing on a rich array of examples from around the world, the lively book is full of thought-provoking discussion of our relationships with trees and the climate."

- Current World Archaeology

"In her delightful Tree Story, dendrochronologist Valerie Trouet obliterates the layman's notion that tree rings provide little more information than a tree's age... What trees can teach seems limited only by science's ability to extract the information."

- Matt Sutherland - Foreword Reviews

"Tree Story gives readers a lively, sometimes visceral feel for Trouet's work."

- Carolyn Gramling - Science News

"Tree Story is a work of science, of graphs and statistics... But Trouet recounts too the personal thrill of discovery, the camaraderie and competitiveness of academic science, and the arduous nature of her research."

- Philip Marsden - The Spectator

"Valerie Trouet's Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings is everything I had hoped it would be: intelligent, accessible, witty, and captivating — a global adventure spanning millennia and embracing a bevy of unexpected topics, all resulting from the study of tree rings."

- Jennifer Bort Yacovissi - Washington Independent Review of Books

"Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings, offers a passionate, yet clear-eyed introduction, into the field of dendrochronology."

- Roberta Schultz - Cincinnati Public Radio News
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 18

9781421437774 : tree-story-trouet
256 Pages
$27.00 USD
9781421437781 : tree-story-trouet
Electronic book text
256 Pages
$27.00 USD

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