King Sequoia: The Tree That Inspired a Nation, Created Our National Park System, and Changed the Way We Think about Nature

Finalist for the 2017 NCIBA Book of the Year Award (Regional Interest)

From a towering tree, one of California’s preeminent naturalists unspools a history that echoes across generations and continents. Former park ranger William C. Tweed takes readers on a tour of the Big Trees in a narrative that travels deep into the Sierras, around the West, and all the way to New Zealand; and in doing so he explores the American public’s evolving relationship with sequoias. It comes as no surprise that the groves in Yosemite and Calaveras were early tourist destinations, as this species that predated Christ and loomed over all the world’s other trees was the embodiment of California’s superlative, almost unbelievable appeal. When sequoias were threatened by logging interests, the feelings of horror that this desecration evoked in people catalyzed protection efforts; in a very direct way, this species inspired the Park Idea. And sequoias’ influence doesn’t end there: as science evolved to consider landscapes more holistically, sequoias were once again at the heart of this attitudinal shift. Featuring an entrancing cast of adventurers, researchers, politicians, and environmentalists, King Sequoia reveals how one tree species has transformed Americans’ connection to the natural world.

Published in collaboration with Sierra College Press

Advance Praise

“Well-written...engaging...masterful.” --Newell G. Bringhurst, Visalia Delta-Times

 

“Drawing on real-life experience and extensive research, William C. Tweed incisively explains how Americans have exploited, preserved, and managed Sequoiadendron giganteum. This is the best single-volume history of the world’s greatest plant.”—Jared Farmer, author of Trees in Paradise: A California History

 

“This is a story that must be told. As Tweed insightfully reminds us, the solemn majesty and beauty of the giant sequoia inspired the conservation movement that has changed the world. From a seed the size of an oat flake has grown a relationship with nature that defines our national character, and a species that is among our greatest assets in the fight against climate change. Read on, and be reminded that while we are saving the redwoods, the redwoods are saving us!”—Sam Hodder, president and CEO, Save the Redwoods League

 

“When Mr. Tweed speaks about sequoia trees, people listen. When he writes about the world’s largest trees, people should read.”—Mark Tilchen, executive director, Sequoia Parks Conservancy

About the Author

William C. Tweed

William C. Tweed brings humans closer to nature using the knowledge and skills he developed during thirty years as a chief naturalist, historian, and writer with the National Park Service. His published works include Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks: The Story Behind the Scenery (KC Publications, 1980); Challenge of the Big Trees: A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (coauthored with Larry Dilsaver, Sequoia Naturalist History Association, 1990); Death Valley and the Northern Mojave: A Visitor’s Guide (coauthored with Lauren Davis, Cachuma Press, 2003); and Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks (University of California Press, 2010). Tweed makes his home in Bend, Oregon.