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Publisher's Summary

2019 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

Canadian botanist, biochemist, and visionary Diana Beresford-Kroeger's startling insights into the hidden life of trees have already sparked a quiet revolution in how we understand our relationship to forests. Now, in a captivating account of how her life led her to these illuminating and crucial ideas, she shows us how forests can not only heal us but save the planet.

When Diana Beresford-Kroeger - whose father was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and whose mother was an O'Donoghue, one of the stronghold families who carried on the ancient Celtic traditions - was orphaned as a child, she could have been sent to the Magdalene Laundries. Instead, the O'Donoghue elders, most of them scholars and freehold farmers in the Lisheens valley in County Cork, took her under their wing. Diana became the last ward under the Brehon Law. Over the course of three summers, she was taught the ways of the Celtic triad of mind, body, and soul. This included the philosophy of healing, the laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom, and the Ogham alphabet, all of it rooted in a vision of nature that saw trees and forests as fundamental to human survival and spirituality. 

Already a precociously gifted scholar, Diana found that her grounding in the ancient ways led her to fresh scientific concepts. Out of that huge and holistic vision have come the observations that put her at the forefront of her field: the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate.

This book is not only the story of a remarkable scientist and her ideas, it harvests all of her powerful knowledge about why trees matter, and why trees are a viable, achievable solution to climate change. Diana eloquently shows us that if we can understand the intricate ways in which the health and welfare of every living creature is connected to the global forest, and strengthen those connections, we will still have time to mend the self-destructive ways that are leading to drastic fires, droughts, and floods.

©2019 Diana Beresford-Kroeger (P)2019 Random House Canada

Critic Reviews

“In her youth in Ireland, Diana Beresford-Kroeger received an extraordinary and unique education in traditional Celtic plant lore. At university in Canada, she specialized in biochemistry and merged what she learned and observed into her signature studies of trees, augmented by First Nation forest wisdom. This autobiography of learning ways to heal the damaged earth and break the tightening grip of climate crisis offers a rational and inclusive way to keep our future.” (Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News)

“Diana Beresford Kroeger has given readers a rare gift: an inspiring tale about trees, trauma and the very purpose of life. Her Celtic story works on you like a good walk in a pine forest: You can’t help but feel invigorated afterwards.” (Andrew Nikiforuk, award-winning journalist)
 

What listeners say about To Speak for the Trees

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So enjoyable I didn't want it to end

What an amazing book. I haven't been this affected by a book in a very long time. I loved everything about it. Diana Beresford-Kroeger's experiences are so special and we are fortunate to have her share her knowledge and wisdom with us. She made her scientific expertise accessible through clear explanations to appeal to people of all backgrounds.

I loved this book so much that I have ordered a physical copy, especially for the appendix where she explains the origin of the Ogham alphabet and correlation with tree species.

This is the first book that I wanted to start listening to again as soon as I had finished it the first time. I have since sought out all other available publications by Diana Beresford-Kroeger and would love to watch her documentary (but can't find it in Australia).

Overall, a very moving, calming, uplifting, renewing listening experience. Highly recommended.

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  • Anne Milligan
  • 27-07-2020

Deeply moving!

I'm not sure I've ever been so taken up by a book in all my life. Listening to it being read, late at night, felt like I was being carried away on an ancient dream of another lifetime and I remembered who I am, and where I've been. I'm not sure that anyone else's experience will be like mine, but I recommend this precious story, from a beautiful soul who has suffered so much, and yet has been gifted to us, for hers and our, healing. So grateful.

8 people found this helpful

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  • AJ Hassel
  • 18-07-2020

treasure

this book is a true treasure and a must read for us all. trees hold my heart and learning how to support their survival and honor their role in our world is so important. this book gives us so much information to help and knowledge that we should pass on for generations.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Penrose
  • 26-01-2020

Ancient Wisdom Growing on Living Land

In her charming Irish voice DB-K reads her magical life's story with the resulting compendium of botanical hea!ing know!edge coming through her lineage of Celtic and Druidic bloodlines, p!us a lifetime of diligent scientific study, research, and experimentation. Highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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  • tara
  • 10-09-2020

An absolute gem

Was enthralled with this book from start to finish. The author has such a unique perspective, bringing a magical element to her scientific experience. As an Irish descendent who deeply appreciates both science and folklore, this book really spoke to me. She animates the natural world in a way that inspires a deep appreciation and reverence for nature that will hopefully compel readers to take action towards environmental protection! I purchased both the audible version and the hardcover, as this will be a much referenced book in my library.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-2020

The world needs this

Everyone should read this book and take the advice, planting acorns in my yard tomorrow.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 26-07-2020

Unique life and sprirt

I am happy the authoress did the narration. She is a generous super intelligent woman who has had many struggles and traumas and has added discoveries to her field of study as well. Learned a lot about forests and why we need ancient trees. She is worthy of a Nobel Prize.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Diana
  • 28-12-2020

Loved it!

Exuberantly glad I found this book. It was like coming home to an important part inside my soul.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kenneth Braziel
  • 14-02-2021

Awesome!

Amazing detailed information on so many trees, they are the ancestors and our life blood.

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  • Ben&Hope
  • 03-02-2021

An inspiring account of how we must see the world!

This book explains so beautifully why I do the work I do at The REED Center. I found myself so inspired to help heal the wounds of our collective past traumas. This book should serve to show many of us that people evolved cultures of natural symbiosis in all corners of the world and these cultures hold profound similarity and clarity of message: what we do unto nature, we do unto ourselves.

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  • DC
  • 05-10-2020

Eternal

This books speaks for the trees, for the earth, for all living beings, and for all time. The author tells her own story and no one else could have narrated this story; it is too deeply personal. She has a meaningful, unique and important life full of passionate love for trees, life, and shows us how preserving them is our only way to survive the present/future of climate change. Her passion and strength are ever-present in her narration, as we see how she grew from a neglected child into a woman of great power.

If you love, as I do, seeing how the ancient knowledge and the new scientific discoveries are simply different ways of understanding the same truths, then this is the book for you. May you enjoy it as fully as I did....

I must mention that Part 2, the Celtic Ogham Alphabet of trees/plants, is so full of both ancient, practical uses of plants and the new laboratory proof of their efficacy, that now I want a physical copy of the book to use as a reference. But having the Audible version first was a deep pleasure, to listen to the story told in the spoken word, as early cultures always did.

Now I must buy two hard copies: one for me and one for my Irish friend who also loves plants.

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  • A. Moorhouse Sacred Earth
  • 31-05-2020

Pay a narrator

I am sure this is a great book but reading your own book badly just makes it unlistenable. Its like listening to a child read. The reason why you should pay a professional narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Victoria Jennings
  • 04-02-2020

My favourite book

Speaks to my heart, so interesting, so much information told in such a beautiful way. I will listen again and again

1 person found this helpful

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  • M. Turner
  • 29-12-2020

wonderful book

Absolutely loved listening to Diana read her magickal book. Her rich Celtic wisdom and scientific knowledge are awe inspiring.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-11-2020

An inspiration on all accounts

Such a well articulated life story full of wonder and compassion. A must read for any nature lover.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-10-2020

Beautiful storyteller

Fans of Robin Fox Kimmerer need to read this! I was looking for something to fill the gap that Braiding Sweetgrass left. Indebted to both of the authors for their honest life story telling and the wisdom they share.

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  • J. Bayley
  • 04-06-2020

superb content

A very inspiring book. Wish I had bought a paper copy though because narration not as good as content

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  • Deborah Barker
  • 04-05-2020

Inspirational, visionary and pragmatic

Absolutely love this women and the work she is doing to shine a light on ‘right relationship with the natural world based on scientific evidence and indigenous wisdom, including her own Celtic knowledge.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.