Winner of the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award, Forest History Society
Winner of the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize, Foundation for Landscape Studies
Finalist, Spur Award for Nonfiction Contemporary, Western Writers of America
At the intersection of plants and politics, Trees in Paradise is an examination of ecological mythmaking and conquest. The first Americans who looked out over California saw arid grasslands and chaparral, and over the course of generations, they remade those landscapes according to the aesthetic values and economic interests of settlers, urban planners, and boosters. In the San Fernando Valley, entrepreneurs amassed fortunes from vast citrus groves; in the Bay Area, gum trees planted to beautify neighborhoods fed wildfires; and across the state, the palm came to stand for the ease and luxury of the rapidly expanding suburbs. Meanwhile, thousands of native redwoods and sequoias were logged to satisfy the insatiable urbanizing impulse. Revealing differing visions of what California should and could be, this natural and unnatural history unravels the network of forces that shape our most fundamental sense of place.