Synopses & Reviews
A superbly entertaining, wide-ranging investigation of wood through history, culture, art, and science.
We build our houses with it, burn it for warmth, carve it for beauty, sail in it, sit on it, play with it, and fight with it, yet how much do we really understand about the history and culture of wood? In this rich and fascinating book, Harvey Green examines how wood in all its variety of form and function has contributed to an extraordinary range of human endeavors.
Wood reveals the history and culture of a substance that has been a central part of human life throughout the world for thousands of years. From the prized whorls of bird's-eye maple to the oak and pine that made navies and empires, from the breathtaking stave churches of Norway to the enduring popularity of the Windsor chair, from the magic of turning to the grace of a Chinese chair, and from the botany of the baseball bat to the stunning carving of Native Americans of the northwest coast, Wood decodes how a seemingly common material has come to signal class, status, and authenticity. Using the historian's craft and the woodworker's hand, Green has fashioned an authoritative book sure to interest all who love this amazing material, appreciate its history, and care about its future.
"Like a walk along a quiet forest rail, reading this book provides opportunity after opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of trees and the things that come from them."
- Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things
In this rich and fascinating book, Green examines how wood in all its variety of form and function has contributed to an extraordinary range of human endeavors. 112 photos.
A rich, authoritative look at a material that plays an essential role in human culture
Wood has been a central part of human life throughout the world for thousands of years. In an intoxicating mix of science, history, and practical information, historian and woodworker Harvey Green considers this vital material's place on the planet. What makes one wood hard and one soft? How did we find it, tame it? Where does it fit into the histories of technology, architecture, and industrialization, of empire, exploration, and settlement? Spanning the surprising histories of the log cabin and Windsor chair, the deep truth about veneer, the role of wood in the American Revolution, the disappearance of the rain forests, the botany behind the baseball bat, and much more, Wood is a deep and satisfying look at one of our most treasured resources.
About the Author
Harvey Green teaches history at Northeastern University in Boston and works in wood at his shop in rural New Hampshire. He is a two-time Fulbright Scholar and the author of three well-regarded books on American material culture.