A passionate and imaginative exploration of wood – the material that shaped human history.
As a material, wood has no equal in strength, resilience, adaptability and availability. It has been our partner in the cultural evolution from woodland foragers to engineers of our own destiny. Tracing that partnership through tools, devices, construction and artistic expression, Max Adams casts light on our own history as an imaginative, curious, resourceful species.
He begins with the material properties of various species of wood, and the influence of six basic devices – wedge, inclined plane, screw, lever, wheel and axle and pulley – before investigating the myriad ways in which wood has been worked across the millennia of human history. From the simple bivouacs of hunter-gatherers to sophisticated wooden buildings such as stave churches; from the decorative arts to the humble woodworking of rustic furniture; Max Adams fashions a lattice of interconnected stories and objects that trace a path of human ingenuity across half a million years.
'Adams' enthusiasm is beguiling, his knowledge as bountiful as a beech-mast, and his appreciation of the utility of trees is a pointer to a better world' The Times.
'This book is a celebration of the plant from which it is made' i, on The Wisdom of Trees
'An elegant book packed with information ... Adams is a true woodsman so speaks with authority' Country Life, on The Wisdom of Trees.
'Gripping, hugely enjoyable and deeply scholarly' History Today Books of the Year, on The King in the North.
'Lyrical prose apart, read this superbly informative book, and you will want to be out planting acorns, apply pips and conkers' Resurgence & Ecologist, on The Wisdom of Trees