From a towering tree, one of California's preeminent naturalists unspools a history that echoes across generations and continents. Former park ranger William C. Tweed takes readers on a tour of the Big Trees in a narrative that travels deep into the Sierras, around the West, and all the way to New Zealand; and in doing so he explores the American public's evolving relationship with sequoias. It comes as no surprise that the groves in Yosemite and Calaveras were early tourist destinations, as this species that predated Christ and loomed over all the world's other trees was the embodiment of California's superlative, almost unbelievable appeal. When sequoias were threatened by logging interests, the feelings of horror that this desecration evoked in people catalyzed protection efforts; in a very direct way, this species inspired the Park Idea. And sequoias' influence doesn't end there: as science evolved to consider landscapes more holistically, sequoias were once again at the heart of this attitudinal shift. Featuring an entrancing cast of adventurers, researchers, politicians, and environmentalists, King Sequoia reveals how one tree species has transformed Americans' connection to the natural world.
"Drawing on real-life experience and extensive research, William C. Tweed incisively explains how Americans have exploited, preserved, and managed Sequoiadendron giganteum. This is the best single-volume history of the world's greatest plant."
– Jared Farmer, author of Trees in Paradise: A California History
"This is a story that must be told. As Tweed insightfully reminds us, the solemn majesty and beauty of the giant sequoia inspired the conservation movement that has changed the world. Read on, and be reminded that while we are saving the redwoods, the redwoods are saving us!"
– Sam Hodder, president and CEO, Save the Redwoods League
"When Mr. Tweed speaks about sequoia trees, people listen. When he writes about the world's largest trees, people should read."
– Mark Tilchen, executive director, Sequoia Parks Conservancy