The Age of Wood

by Roland Ennos | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9781982114749 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 1/28/2023
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, January 28, 2023
I got this softcover at a local Barnes and Noble. It's a cultural history of wood - as building material, source of artworks, source of heat, and more.

The book opens with an account of the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, a conflict between American colonists in Weare, NH (not that far from me) and the British Crown over the tall pine trees that were in much demand for masts for the British Navy. When the Revolutionary War cut off British access to this source of mast-timber it had quite an effect. [It wasn't the first time that the colonists fought back over the timber; just the other day I happened across a historical marker in Fremont NH for the Mast Tree Riot of 1734, when locals felled trees that were reserved for the Navy!]

While it's obvious that wood plays a huge role in our lives, some of the ways in which it helped kick off modern technology may not be as apparent. Wood as a fire-source, yes - but the turning of wood into charcoal was a HUGE step, permitting forges to run at much higher temperatures that could smelt metals and melt glass. (It also demanded a lot of wood, which altered the landscape and changed the economy - yeah, so many things are interconnected...)

The author goes back to the first known tools, pointing out that while stone implements are often referred to as the primary tools and weapons of early man, their wooden precursors - which wouldn't survive the millennia the way the stones do - were widespread and often very effective. (The author takes umbrage with some of the writers about early man's tool-use, if they disparaged the wooden tools in favor of the stone ones; a well-made wooden spear or digging-stick could be a very effective implement in itself.)

Moving on to wood-in-the-arts, the author discusses the various wooden musical instruments - including the ones that are still made from wood, such as violins. He posits that a part of the alchemy behind the most valued of the violins of the 17th and 18th centuries may have been the wood - and not just the type of wood, but the Little Ice Age growing conditions of the trees. Now, that's something that would be very hard to replicate!

Another huge use of wood: paper, from the kind that we write, type, or computer-print on to the paper books are made from, to more humble paper such as paper towels and tissues. The technology to turn wood chips into a pulp that make usable paper at an industrial level didn't kick in until the 1800s.

The book also features some modern uses of wood that I hadn't expected - including multi-story buildings made from wood instead of steel and concrete: cross-fiber laminate allowing the use of smaller trees to construct any size of beam or plank desired, and one that's much stronger than a wooden beam carved directly from a tree trunk. (The author names Mjøstårnet in Norway as the tallest such building, at 280 feet, but I just saw a news item about the Ascent MKE Building in Milwaukee Wisconsin, nudging past at 284 feet (though it has several more stories).)

At the end of the book the author addresses deforestation issues - with some interesting viewpoints, and some suggestions as to how to help promote and preserve trees in future.

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, February 4, 2023

Released 1 mo ago (2/4/2023 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm adding this to the Biographies of Things bookbox. (The bookbox journal includes my selections and replacements.) Hope someone enjoys it!

Journal Entry 3 by winghaahaahaa98wing at Watertown, Massachusetts USA on Tuesday, February 7, 2023
I'm excited about this one!

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