Forest Unseen, The

Haskell, David George

  14 Reviews

Just as the poet William Blake suggested the idea of seeing the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, biologist David George Haskell presents a contemporary equivalent, focusing on a square metre of old forest on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Observed almost daily for a year, this patch of forest teeming with life reveals the intricate and complex nature of ecosystems and through a philosophical lens, our place in the world. Blending current scientific thinking with a lyrical writing style, this is a book to savour.

Comments from Groups

We chose this book as our favourite of the year because of the brilliant scientific knowledge combined with the most lyrical writing, a rare combination. It almost needs to come with a warning - this book cannot be rushed, it is a form of meditation and reflection. Several members have bought their own copies or to give to friends and family such was its impact. Nelson 009

Absolutely fascinating and beautifully written. We'll never look at a forest floor the same way again. Taupo 004

Most found the book interesting, but only one read the whole book. It was too wordy to read more than a chapter at a time. We admired the author's philosophy and depth of knowledge. Clarkville 001

Wow!! No one owned up to requesting this book, but everyone has found it fascinating, interesting and most absorbing. It took us on a journey to new places, and even though it was a difficult read (so much to digest), we loved it. Thanks. Whakatane 011

We had a good discussion, as there was so much to consider with this book. It was a book to really make you think, although not all members finished it. A good book to read 1 or 2 chapters at a time - and a book you could have to keep, and just pick up and read anytime, and any chapter. As far as I was concerned, it was magical. Wonderful writing too. Te Kuiti 002

The majority loved it, finding the intricacies and interconnectedness of the ecosystem fascinating. The poetic language delightfully enhanced it also. Some members are buying their own copy. Coromandel 002

Half the group loved it; the others didn't finish it. We decided it was the kind of book where you needed to read a chapter a day, as there was a lot of information - too much to absorb at one time. Dunedin 033

Without exception the group loved this read. Some are going to purchase their own copy for future reference. Masterton 004



A very special book - those of our group who got it read, said it was one to keep - others of us wanted more time to complete. Beautifully written, the appeal of it surprised many.
THAM 004
This had everyone wildly excited. Well-written, information packed, but very readable - even by those who prefer fiction! Good for dipping into.
Lots of good information. Quite dense, so need to read slowly and take it all in. Some great poetic language. Connects many aspects of the natural world together.
Would be a great reference book or one to read slowly - we felt a bit rushed and most of us didn't finish it. We liked the spirituality combined with the science aspect. Very descriptive and poetic. Well-written.
NEWP 004
Great book but too much information to read in one sitting. Best to read a chapter at a time between two activities. Packed with info - too much for some, but really interesting; and all loved the beautiful rich and poetic language used to describe all those fascinating facts...
CAMB 007
A couple in the group loved this book, but the rest of us struggled.
A fascinating read which opened our eyes to much of the natural world and its interconnectness. The amount of detail was challenging for many in the group however.
NELS 002
A wonderful book - to be savoured, not rushed.
AKAR 002
Very informative indeed, but a little repetitive.
Some of us found this a little overwhelming, but those who persevered found it fascinating, and felt they learnt so much. We had lots to talk about, especially how everything in life is connected and dependent on other living things.
Most of our group really enjoyed this book. We appreciated the detailed descriptions and the accessibility of the natural science. Some were irritated by the occasional personalising of nature. Some found the American nature described unfamiliar.
Most of the group thought this book was wonderful and beautifully written.
WANG 002
Some of us were delighted by the poetically written prose, making the botanical detail so interesting and easy to read. Others found it very dense and did not finish.
WINT 001
Apart from a couple of members, who didn't enjoy the scientific writing, everyone else enjoyed it. It was beautifully written and really helped the reader understand the connectivity within the natural environment. Unseen helped us realise how many decisions are made in isolation, both low order such as spraying your section, or large order such as clear felling a forest, without considering all the biota that live there. The questions led to some interesting discussion. We highly recommend this book.