268 pages, no illustrations
Written with remarkable grace and empathy, The Forest Unseen is a grand tour of nature in all its profundity. Biologist David George Haskell uses a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life. Beginning with simple observations – a salamander scuttling across the leaf litter, the first blossom of spring wildflowers – Haskell spins a brilliant web of biology, ecology, and poetry, explaining the science binding together ecosystems that have cycled for thousands – sometimes millions – of years.
"Very much a contemporary biologist in his familiarity with genetics and population ecology, he also has the voracious synthetic imagination of a 19th-century naturalist. [...] a sensitive writer, conjuring with careful precision the worlds he observes and delighting the reader with insightful turns of phrase."
- The Wall Street Journal
" [...] as beautiful a book as I've read in years [...] I can't remember the last time I encountered so much spiritual wisdom, ecological intelligence and contagious love for the grandeur of life [...] "
- Chattanooga Times Free Press
"Brimming with sensual details, when Haskell's modest patch of turf removes its glasses, it's as sexy as Marian the Librarian."
- Atlanta Journal and Constitution
"An extraordinary, intimate view of life [...] Exceptional observations of the biological world [...] "
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review for "books of remarkable merit"
"Mixing poetry with natural history, he follows subtle scientific threads [...] to conclusions of gratifying breadth."
- Conservation Magazine
"Haskell leads the reader into a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry, in which the invisible appear, the small grow large, and the immense complexity and beauty of life are more clearly revealed."
- E. O. Wilson, Harvard University
"David Haskell trains his eye on a single square meter of Cumberland Plateau, and manages in the process to see the whole living planet as clearly as any writer in many years. Each chapter will teach you something new!"
- Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"In the style of Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Thoreau, David Haskell has capture the beauty and intricacy of evolution in these pages. For those who are looking for inspiration to spend more time in the wild, this book is the perfect companion. Haskell's vast knowledge of the forest and all its creatures is the perfect guide to exploring wilderness. The prose is a perfect match for the poetic tranquillity found through the study of nature. A true naturalist's manifesto."
- Greg Graffin, author of Anarchy Evolution
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David George Haskell is a professor of biology at the University of the South and was named the Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year in Tennessee in 2009. In addition to his scholarly work, he has published essays and poetry. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee.