tzi the iceman could not do without wood when he was climbinghis Alpine glacier, nor could medieval cathedral-builders ortoday's construction companies.
From time immemorial, the skill ofthe human hand has developed by working wood, so much so that wemight say that the handling of wood is a basic element in thehistory of the human body.
The fear of a future wood famine becamea panic in the 18th century and sparked the beginnings of modernenvironmentalism.
This book traces the cultural history of wood and offers ahighly original account of the connection between the raw materialand the human beings who benefit from it.
Even more, it shows thatwood can provide a key for a better understanding of history, ofthe pecularities as well as the varieties of cultures, of aco-evolution of nature and culture, and even of the rise and fallof great powers.
Beginning with Stone Age hunters, it follows thetwists and turns of the story through the Middle Ages and theIndustrial Revolution to the global society of the twenty-firstcentury, in which wood is undergoing a varied and unexpectedrenaissance.
Radkau is sceptical of claims that wood is about todisappear, arguing that such claims are self-serving argumentspromoted by interest groups to secure cheaper access to, andcontrol over, wood resources.
The whole forest and timber industryoften strikes the outsider as a world unto itself, a hermeticallysealed black box, but when we lift the lid on this box, as Radkaudoes here, we will be surprised by what we find within. Wide-ranging and accessible, this rich historical analysis ofone of our most cherished natural resources will find a widereadership.