Trees: Between Earth and Heaven

Like its subject matter, this book is large, impressive, and a pleasure to look at.


Trees: Between Earth and Heaven

PUBLISHER:Mandala Publishing
AUTHOR:Art Wolfe and Gregory McNamee
FORMAT:Hardcover, 319 pages

This is a big book – 1-1/2" thick and 10-1/2" by 14-1/2" in size, and probably weighing six or seven pounds – befitting the colossal size of its subject matter. Trees are after all, the largest organisms on earth.

There are two components to this book - the photos of Art Wolfe, an award-winning photographer who has been shooting nature for decades, with text supplied by Gregory McNamee, a prolific writer and author on a wide variety of subjects. There is also a short introduction, by Wade Davis, an anthropologist whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures.

Wolfe and McNamee profile trees from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas. In large part, the photography is gorgeous - exotic trees in their natural settings, in places that I'll likely never get to visit. There are four triple page, panoromic photos that span 32" across, and some three dozen double page spreads, along with several dozen single full-page photos. It's those larger photos that I find most impressive – a bit like standing next to Wolfe as he's snapping away. I don't particularly like the smaller 4" x 6" photos that pepper the book - you can't see much in the way of detail, particulary when the photos show expansive vistas. Occasionally Wolfe gets carried away showing too many similar photos - for example the five photos of what look to be the same small group of calcified thorn trees plus a three page spread of the trees.

McNamee's introduction to each geograpahical area makes for interesting reading that is almost as compelling as the photos. He's adept at sketching little portraits of the symbiotic relationship that has evolved over time between trees and humans.

My only complaint with this giant of a book is a tiny one – the captions under the photos are barely legible. Otherwise, this make for an enjoyable coffee table book that will likely be viewed time and time again.



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