The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge; Oak: The Frame of Civilization by William Bryant Logan - review by Stephen Anderton

Stephen Anderton

A Forest of Delights

The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter


Allen Lane 451pp £20

Oak: The Frame of Civilization


W W Norton and Co 336pp £16.99

At the time I read Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time I understood his explanations of astrophysics, but was quite unable to repeat them afterwards. Others have said the same. But physics is not easy – some minds can do it and others not; and however good the writer, the substance will not necessarily stick. Colin Tudge’s explanation of evolutionary botany, The Secret Life of Trees, definitely sticks.

Botany and biology, you might say, are more tangible than physics, more immediate to the senses, and therefore easier to assimilate than physics. True enough, but still they have great complexities, and Tudge can make them not just understood but compelling reading too. Just as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend