Some advance praise for Ladders to Heaven from Annie Proulx, Deborah Blum, Sy Montgomery, Fred Pearce, Simran Sethi and Thomas Lovejoy...
“Surprising, engrossing, disturbing, and promising, [Ladders to Heaven] combines masterful storytelling and spellbinding science. This is a beautifully-written and important book about trees that have shaped human destiny.”
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
“In his insightful book, Mike Shanahan combines poetry and science, history and humanity, to tell a story not only of the fig tree but of life on Earth in all its beautiful and astonishing complexity. In doing so, he reminds us of what a remarkable place we inhabit—and how much we should all want to protect and preserve it.”
—Deborah Blum, director, Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT; author of The Poisoner’s Handbook
“The complex web of ecological connections between fig trees, tropical forest animals and plants, as well as people and human culture is nothing short of a marvel. [Ladders to Heaven] is a page-turner and a revelation: You will never again think of a fig as just something to eat. There is no better way to introduce the complexity and wonder of nature—and our intricate relationship with it. A must read.”
— Thomas E. Lovejoy, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University; fellow, National Geographic Society
“This book concerns the stunningly versatile and ancient family of fig trees now being used as a framework species to restore damaged tropical forests. Figs are not only considered the keystone species in forests but are perhaps the world’s most perfect tree—they provide highly nutritious fruits with health-giving and medicinal qualities. They attract birds and animals. They grow very rapidly and produce abundant fruits in a few years. They make shade and shelter, their deep powerful roots can break up compacted soils, they draw up water, they prevent erosion, and they have important spiritual qualities. The tree in the Garden of Eden was very likely not an apple but a fig.”
—Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain
“In [Ladders to Heaven], rainforest ecologist Mike Shanahan charts a lifelong love affair with figs, one that has taken him from India to Kenya, through temples and rainforests, all in search of a deeper understanding of what he describes as ‘humanity’s relationship with nature.’ The fig becomes a tasty lens that reveals not only the fruit’s cultural and biological significance but our relationship to that which most deeply nourishes us.”
—Simran Sethi, author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate
“A real labour of love, concisely and elegantly told.”
—Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild; environmental consultant for New Scientist
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