An exhilarating and informative look at the world’s forests and how we can help them thrive.



Environmental journalist Pearce returns with an exploration of what trees and forests do, how humans have used them, and what must be done to maintain them.

This book, writes Pearce—an environmental consultant for the New Statesman and author of The Land Grabbers and The New Wild, among other ecology-focused books—“is about the magic and mystery of trees and forests, about their defenders and plunderers, and why they matter for the planet and for all of us.” Across 20 chapters, the author, who has reported from more than 60 countries for the Guardian, Washington Post, and other publications, demonstrates the significance of forests and reports on their historical and current health, how nature has been slowly rewilding forests throughout the world, the devastating effects of wildfires, and the concrete steps we must take to ensure forests’ vitality. Pearce takes us across the world, from “the cloud forests of the Ecuadorian Andes” to “the radioactive (but otherwise healthy) forests around Chernobyl in Ukraine; to the swamp forests of Indonesia and the community forests of the Himalayas; to the acid-rain-ravaged forests of central Europe and the pine forests in the American Deep South being cut to keep the lights on in Britain.” The author showcases countless natural wonderlands, all the while educating readers on the effects of our lifestyles on their health, and he investigates many long-held beliefs that may require deeper study—e.g., the idea that we can solve our climate crisis simply by planting trees. Though Pearce tempers his optimism with hard science, his enthusiasm is infectious, whether he’s reporting on acid rain in central Europe, surveying rampant devastation throughout the Amazon, celebrating the “multicolored magnificence of New England in the autumn,” or exploring “the remains of a largely unknown ancient forest civ­ilization in Nigeria.”

An exhilarating and informative look at the world’s forests and how we can help them thrive.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77164-940-7

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Greystone Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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