A contemporary view of the effects of wood, as used for building and fuel, and of deforestation on the development of civilization.
Until the ascendancy of fossil fuels, wood has been the principal fuel and building material from the dawn of civilization. Its abundance or scarcity greatly shaped, as A Forest Journey ably relates, the culture, demographics, economy, internal and external politics, and technology of successive societies over the millennia.
A Forest Journey's comprehensive coverage of the major role forests have played in human life – told with grace, fluency, imagination, and humor – gained it recognition as a Harvard Classic in Science and World History and as one of Harvard's "One-Hundred Great Books". Others receiving the honor include such luminaries as Stephen Jay Gould and E. O. Wilson. This new paperback edition adds a prologue and an epilogue to reflect the current situation in which forests have become imperative for humanity's survival.
"Like some Greek epic poem spanning 4,000 years of civilization [...] an impressive array of research and a novel topic."
– Los Angeles Times
"Perlin deftly combines a balance of social and ecological values as well as lessons for the immediate future."
– John Brosnahan, Booklist
"A journey through time – a sort of Western Civ. 101 with a focus on the crucial role of wood in the rise and fall of states and cultures [...] Solid survey that adds significant dimension to our picture of the current crisis."
– Kirkus Reviews
"This work [...] captures the significant impact of wood on past and present civilizations. [...] well written and well illustrated."
– M. J. Zwolinski, Choice
"This book takes one those bold imaginative steps through world history that leaves you full of excitement, as suddenly events seem to fall into a pattern for the first time. Perlin not only presents us with a bold hypothesis profusely documented and illustrated, he does it with a story-teller's pace and ability to surprise."
– Book Talks, BBC World Service
"Well documented and illustrated, it is history at its best."
– American Forests