Running Head: Advanced Placement Biology
Oak the Frame of Civilization, by Peter D. Ward
This book is made up of a combination of historical events, scientific facts and human drama, which create a dimensional narrative. It also elaborates the difficulties that engulf a forester. Even with the kind of experience that he has had with trees, he is still unsure of when to cut down a tree and once the cutting is completed, he is again faced with the uncertainty as to whether or not the tree will provide him with the high quality timber that he so desires. This book goes on to talk of the many contributions that the oak tree has made towards the society.
The major biological concept that is discussed within the book is how the oak tree, quercus, came to be a dominant tree genus. The reasons for its dominance are owed to the fact that this tree does not specialize in a specific environment. It can easily adapt to different environmental changes, therefore allowing it to grow. The dependency that is present between oaks trees and jays is also a biological concept that is of importance. It is also very flexible and energy conserving, which regulates new growth from springing up. The oak is deeply rooted and uses these roots to support other trees that may not be doing well. The oak also comes in a variety of species. The author describes the oak to be the most successful plant.
These biological concepts are important because they will help us understand what nature means to the society. They also help us to understand how it was that the oak tree came to be intertwined with the society as a whole. The first major contribution that the oak tree made to the society was provision of food. The balanoculture is a society whose main diet is said to have consisted of an acorn from the oak tree. This is supported and evidenced through historical references and an archaeological site that was placed in Catal Huyuk, now Turkey, where mortars and pestles that were used to grind the acorns can be found. Gathering acorns was a much simpler task when compared with hunting and many people opted for the former. The oak tree was also used in the construction of the boardwalk in the year 3807 B.C, which then leads to the construction of bridges and highways thereafter. The oak was considered the lifeline of the community.
Another importance that the oak tree has is that it serves a raw material provider. It provided timber for water vessel construction. Once the mortise and tenon method of making joints was discovered, it was then used to build houses. It also provides charcoal from its burnt timber and permanent ink from within its trunk. In some religions, the oak tree is considered sacred and is usually used when religious rites are being performed. The oak has also been used as a means of storage. Casks are built from it and food or drinks are stored within it.
The last few chapters of the book talk specifically on the botanical oak. It elaborates on how it can be identified and all the forms that it comes in. This book is very informative and would be a good read for all groups of people and especially those that are much interested in nature.
What I like about the book is the way in which the author brings out the intrinsic worth of the tree. He shows us that its importance is not merely based on its monetary value. He also shows us that human beings can maximize on their potential by working together with nature. I like his use of metaphors to bring his points forward. In the book, my two most favorite chapters were those that were titled, ‘Age of the Oak’ and ‘End of the Age’. Here the author provides much detail on how the oak can be manufactured and mechanized for use. It is amazing to experience the process that the oak has to go through so that a breathtaking work of art can be achieved. On the other hand, what I disliked about the book is that in some chapters it tended to be quite slow. An example is the chapter where he talks about balanoculture. This chapter is not very interesting. However, the book picks up pace as you continue reading.