New Book | No Wood, No Kingdom

Posted in books by Editor on August 17, 2021

From Penn Press:

Keith Pluymers, No Wood, No Kingdom: Political Ecology in the English Atlantic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021), 296 pages, ISBN 978-0812253078, $50 / £40.

In early modern England, wood scarcity was a widespread concern. Royal officials, artisans, and common people expressed their fears in laws, petitions, and pamphlets, in which they debated the severity of the problem, speculated on its origins, and proposed solutions to it. No Wood, No Kingdom explores these conflicting attempts to understand the problem of scarcity and demonstrates how these ideas shaped land use, forestry, and the economic vision of England’s earliest colonies.

Popular accounts have often suggested that deforestation served as a ‘push’ for English colonial expansion. Keith Pluymers shows that wood scarcity in England, rather than a problem of absolute supply and demand, resulted from social conflict over the right to define and regulate resources, difficulties obtaining accurate information, and competing visions for trade, forestry, and the English landscape. Domestic scarcity claims did encourage schemes to develop wood-dependent enterprises in the colonies, but in practice colonies competed with domestic enterprises rather than supplanting them. Moreover, close studies of colonial governments and the actions of individual landholders in Ireland, Virginia, Bermuda, and Barbados demonstrate that colonists experimented with different, often competing approaches to colonial woods and trees, including efforts to manage them as long-term resources, albeit ones that nonetheless brought significant transformations to the land.

No Wood, No Kingdom explores the efforts to knot together woods around the Atlantic basin as resources for an English empire and the deep underlying conflicts and confusion that largely frustrated those plans. It speaks to historians of early modern Europe, early America, and the Atlantic World but also offers key insights on early modern resource politics, forest management, and political ecology of interest to readers in the environmental humanities and social sciences as well as those interested in colonialism or economic history.

Keith Pluymers is Assistant Professor of History at Illinois State University.


Note on Spelling and Dates

Introduction: A Wooden World
1  Scarcity, Conflict, and Regulation in England’s Royal Forests
2  Creating Scarcity in Ireland’s Woods
3  The Political Ecology of Woods in Virginia
4  Conservation and Commercialization in Bermuda
5  Deforestation and Preservation in Early Barbados
6  Toward an Atlantic or Imperial Political Ecology?

Archives Consulted

New Book | The Age of Wood

Posted in books by Editor on August 17, 2021

From Simon & Schuster:

Roland Ennos, The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization (New York: Scribner, 2020), 336 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1982114732, $28.

As the dominant species on Earth, humans have made astonishing progress since our ancestors came down from the trees. But how did the descendants of small primates manage to walk upright, become top predators, and populate the world? How were humans able to develop civilizations and produce a globalized economy? Now, in The Age of Wood, Roland Ennos shows for the first time that the key to our success has been our relationship with wood.

Brilliantly synthesizing recent research with existing knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as primatology, anthropology, archaeology, history, architecture, engineering, and carpentry, Ennos reinterprets human history and shows how our ability to exploit wood’s unique properties has profoundly shaped our bodies and minds, societies, and lives. He takes us on a sweeping ten-million-year journey from Southeast Asia and West Africa where great apes swing among the trees, build nests, and fashion tools; to East Africa where hunter gatherers collected their food; to the structural design of wooden temples in China and Japan; and to Northern England, where archaeologists trace how coal enabled humans to build an industrial world. Addressing the effects of industrialization—including the use of fossil fuels and other energy-intensive materials to replace timber—The Age of Wood not only shows the essential role that trees play in the history and evolution of human existence, but also argues that for the benefit of our planet we must return to more traditional ways of growing, using, and understanding trees.

A winning blend of history and science, this is a fascinating and authoritative work for anyone interested in nature, the environment, and the making of the world as we know it.

Roland Ennos is a visiting professor of biological sciences at the University of Hull. He is the author of successful textbooks on plants, biomechanics, and statistics, and his popular book Trees, published by the Natural History Museum, is now in its second edition. He lives in England.

New Book | Féau & Cie: The Art of Wood Paneling

Posted in books by Editor on August 17, 2021

From Rizzoli:

Olivier Gabet and Axelle Corty, with a foreword by Michael S. Smith and photographs by Robert Polidori, Féau & Cie: The Art of Wood Paneling, Boiseries from the 17th Century to Today (New York: Rizzoli, 2020), 288 pages, ISBN: 978-0847868506, $65.

The French woodwork purveyor Féau & Cie has supplied architects, designers, and museums with period paneling since 1875. Featuring documents, drawings, plaster models, panels, and antique boiserie rooms, its archive of 25,000 pieces—many from the eighteenth century and Art Deco era—is an unrivaled source of inspiration for re-creating heirloom spaces as well as for constructing spectacular contemporary pieces. Though the house remains best known for its magical historic rooms, it has collaborated with architects and decorators on original projects since its beginnings, and today’s design greats—including Michael S. Smith, Brian J. McCarthy, and Robert Couturier, among others—regularly call upon the firm for elaborate projects.

In this first book of the firm’s work, Feau & Cie reveals a selection of its most exceptional projects, from magnificent historical abodes to daring modern creations, including a palace in Tuscany and residences in Paris, London, New York, Malibu, and Atlanta. Dazzling images of finished interiors are accompanied by details of panels, doors, and decor, while exclusive photographs by Robert Polidori explore the house’s Parisian atelier. The unique savoir faire of joiners, sculptors, gilders, and painter-decorators shines through in this visual celebration of decorative masterpieces, which is bound to delight design masters and art lovers alike.

Founded in 1875, Féau & Cie is a Paris-based firm specializing in antique wood paneling and reproductions. Olivier Gabet is the director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Robert Polidori is one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers of architecture and interiors.

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