In Search of the Old Ones: An Odyssey among Ancient Trees (Hardcover)

In Search of the Old Ones: An Odyssey among Ancient Trees By Anthony D. Fredericks Cover Image
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An extraordinary journey to visit the oldest trees in the United States that beautifully reveals the connection between humans and natural history— a perfect read for nature lovers and fans of The Hidden Life of Trees.

Follow award-winning author Anthony D. Fredericks's adventures across the United States to uncover the remarkable secrets and lives of ancient trees. He introduces some of the oldest trees in the country using up-to-date research, interviews with scientists, captivating storytelling, and a contagious wonder for the natural world. Fredericks's visits to the trees turn readers into fellow travelers. Through firsthand accounts and scientific detail, these enduring trees come to life off the page.

Each chapter begins with a time-travel story that immerses readers in Earth's past, as early as ~58,000 BCE, for a sweeping view of what was happening during human history when the ancient tree took root. It then zooms into present-day to investigate the tree in all its mature glory and the changed world around it.

Some of the featured trees include: 

  • A 13,000-year-old Palmer's oak in California that survives by cloning itself
  • The 1,200-year-old Seven Sisters Oak in Louisiana that has survived in the path of at least ten major hurricanes
  • 2,000-year-old redwoods (the tallest trees in the world) on the California coast
  • The 2,628 year old bald cypress in the Black River of North Carolina

Marvelously detailed and deeply passionate, In Search of the Old Ones will transform your perspective of the trees and forests around you.

About the Author

ANTHONY D. FREDERICKS is Professor Emeritus of Education at York College of Pennsylvania. He has published more than 170 adult nonfiction and children’s books, including The Secret Life of Clams, Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor, and Desert Night, Desert Day. He has also written for Psychology Today, High Country News, Hawaii Magazine, and more. An educator for nearly 50 years, he has taught science workshops, made natural history presentations, and led field trips throughout North America.

Praise For…

"Fredericks adorns the science with poetic flourishes, including scenes depicting what humans were doing around the time that some of the oldest existing trees sprouted. [...] the author’s reverence for his subjects endears (“Wise teachers, those redwoods”). The result is a ruminative exploration of some of the oldest living organisms on Earth."

"This book reads as a pilgrimage. [Fredericks'] journey, wide-ranging thoughts and information come to life in his book In Search of the Old Ones, an Odyssey among Ancient Trees. [...] Along with stories about life at the time these trees took root, there is vast information about what scientists know about these trees, how cores are taken to determine exact age and mention of other writings about these ancient lives. There are no glossy photographs, instead lovely black, white, and gray illustrations of the featured trees and land. Phyllis Disher Fredericks and Rebecca Noelle Purvis are the illustrators. Their drawings give the book a nature journal feel that makes for a more personal and intimate communication between the tree, artist, and reader."

In Search of the Old Ones is a great companion for anyone exploring the outdoors. This book is a spiritual guide to help us appreciate trees, groves, and forests. It humbly asks us to understand and protect these companions that have patiently provided us with support, energy, shade, relief, inspiration, and beauty. I can picture John Muir sitting in front of these Old Ones, in the same way that Anthony Fredericks did, inspiring a generation of conservationists to act in the face of climate change and other defining challenges of our times.” —Ramón J. Cruz, president of the Sierra Club

“Beautifully written and brimming with amazing information. Fredericks is an acute observer who explores the miracles that trees are.” —Beth Moon, photographer of Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time

“A fascinating investigation into our relationship with ancient trees and how they reveal so much about our environment and our past.” —Tristan Gooley, author of How to Read a Tree

In Search of the Old Ones is a delightful journey throughout the United States to visit the country’s most ancient trees. It’s an exploration of awe-inspiring veteran trees of different species. This fascinating book offers a unique and enlightening perspective on these arboreal wonders, weaving together historical anecdotes and a deep reverence for nature. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history enthusiast, you’ll love this book.” —Holly Worton, author of If Trees Could Talk

Product Details
ISBN: 9781588347473
ISBN-10: 1588347478
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Pages: 248
Language: English