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“The invisible is made powerfully, inescapably vivid here. The air is the sea in which we swim, and so this book becomes an account of our (thin, deteriorating) place in the cosmos.”

Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet


Air

The Restless Shaper of the World

Air sustains the living. Every creature breathes to live, exchanging and changing the atmosphere. Water and dust spin and rise, make clouds and fall again, fertilizing the dirt. Twenty thousand fungal spores and half a million bacteria travel in a square foot of summer air. The chemical sense of aphids, the ultraviolet sight of swifts, a newborn’s awareness of its mother’s breast—all take place in the medium of air.

Ignorance of the air is costly. The artist Eva Hesse died of inhaling her fiberglass medium. Thousands were sickened after 9/11 by supposedly “safe” air. The African Sahel suffers drought in part because we fill the air with industrial dusts. With the passionate narrative style and wide-ranging erudition that have made William Bryant Logan’s work a touchstone for nature lovers and environmentalists, Air is—like the contents of a bag of seaborne dust that Darwin collected aboard the Beagle—a treasure trove of discovery.


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“[A] masterful collection of essays.”

Daryl Beyers, Horticulture: Gardening at Its Best


Dirt

The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Saint Phocas, Darwin, and Virgil parade through this thought-provoking work, taking their place next to the dung beetle, the compost heap, dowsing, historical farming, and the microscopic biota that till the soil. With fresh eyes and heartfelt reverence, William Bryant Logan variously observes, “There is glamour to the study of rock”; “The most mysterious place on Earth is right beneath our feet”; and “Dirt is the gift of each to all.”

Whether Logan is traversing the far reaches of the cosmos or plowing through our planet’s crust, his delightful, elegant, and surprisingly soulful meditations greatly enrich our concept of “dirt,” that substance from which we all arise and to which we all must return.


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“[Logan] uses oak as a prism through which to view the rise of human civilization, examining the ways in which human use of oak became more sophisticated. It’s an interesting way to sift through human history, and yields interesting insights.”

Adekke Waldman, Christian Science Monitor


Oak

The Frame of Civilization

The ultimate distance race is within your reach—a completely updated edition of the now-classic work.

Professional arborist and award-winning nature writer William Bryant Logan deftly relates the delightful history of the reciprocal relationship between humans and oak trees since time immemorial—a profound link that has almost been forgotten. From the ink of Bach’s cantatas, to the first boat to reach the New World, to the wagon, the barrel, and the sword, oak trees have been a constant presence throughout our history. In fact, civilization prospered where oaks grew, and for centuries these supremely adaptable, generous trees have supported humankind in nearly every facet of life. “With an unabashed enthusiasm for his subject” (Carol Haggas, Booklist) Logan combines science, philosophy, spirituality, and history with a contagious curiosity about why the natural world works the way it does. At once humorous and reverent, “this splendid acknowledgment of a natural marvel” (Publishing News) reintroduces the oak tree so that we might see its vibrant presence throughout our history and our modern world.