Trees don’t just stand there, Simard convincingly argues, but perceive, respond, connect, and converse.

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FINDING THE MOTHER TREE

DISCOVERING HOW THE FOREST IS WIRED FOR INTELLIGENCE AND HEALING

One of the world’s leading forest ecologists recounts her lifelong experimentation with tree-to-tree communication.

In this memoir/scientific exploration, Simard tells the fascinating story that led Richard Powers to base a character on her in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Overstory. Simard focuses on her work probing the nature of forest society and how the constellation of various species tree hubs (in particular, “mother trees”) interacts with mycorrhizal (fungal) links to send chemical signals to each other. When she started in the early 1980s, this type of thinking was dismissed as New Age–y and nonscientific. However, growing up in the woods of western Canada, the author had practical experience studying the rejuvenation of clear-cuts, and she thought there was likely more going on with the trees, a complex and interconnected force that clear-cutting and subsequent monocultural reseeding was missing. Simard charts her yearslong inquiry into the underground wiring of trees, among a variety of species, as it advanced alongside the growth of her own family. These parallel, intimate stories are equally absorbing, and the author’s descriptions of the science involved in her pioneering research are consistently engaging. “Plants use their neural-like physiology to perceive their environment,” she writes. “Their leaves, stems, and roots sense and comprehend their surroundings, then alter their physiology—their growth, ability to forage for nutrients, photosyn­thetic rates, and closure rates of stomata for saving water.” The author is candid about the sexism she has confronted throughout her career as well as the academic beard-pulling over the originality of her scientific results—e.g., her early recognition of the effects of climate change or the “kin recognition from Mother Trees.” Though some readers may not appreciate Simard’s frequent anthropomorphism, the science is solid, and the author’s overarching theme of stewardship is clear, understandable, and necessary.

Trees don’t just stand there, Simard convincingly argues, but perceive, respond, connect, and converse.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65609-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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