tzi the iceman could not do without wood when he was climbinghis Alpine glacier, nor could medieval cathedral-builders ortoday's construction companies. From time immemorial, the skill ofthe human hand has developed by working wood, so much so that wemight say that the handling of wood is a basic element in thehistory of the human body. The fear of a future wood famine becamea panic in the 18th century and sparked the beginnings of modernenvironmentalism. This book traces the cultural history of wood and offers ahighly original account of the connection between the raw materialand the human beings who benefit from it. Even more, it shows thatwood can provide a key for a better understanding of history, ofthe pecularities as well as the varieties of cultures, of aco-evolution of nature and culture, and even of the rise and fallof great powers. Beginning with Stone Age hunters, it follows thetwists and turns of the story through the Middle Ages and theIndustrial Revolution to the global society of the twenty-firstcentury, in which wood is undergoing a varied and unexpectedrenaissance. Radkau is sceptical of claims that wood is about todisappear, arguing that such claims are self-serving argumentspromoted by interest groups to secure cheaper access to, andcontrol over, wood resources. The whole forest and timber industryoften strikes the outsider as a world unto itself, a hermeticallysealed black box, but when we lift the lid on this box, as Radkaudoes here, we will be surprised by what we find within.
Wide-ranging and accessible, this rich historical analysis ofone of our most cherished natural resources will find a widereadership.
Joachim Radkau is professor of modern history at Bielefeld University.
Acknowledgements vii Introduction: Praising Wood, Caring for Wood, Splitting Wood - and a Historical Synthesis 1 Chapter 1 Paths into the Thicket of History 13 1 The `Wood Age' 14 2 Man and Forest: Stories and History 28 3 Wood and Historical Change 34 Chapter 2 Middle Ages and Early Modern Period: Maximum Exploitation and the Beginnings of Sustainability 56 1 Medieval Society and the Limits of the Forest 57 2 Timber Becomes a Commodity 70 3 Large- Scale Firewood Consumption and the First Wave of Forest Ordinance 92 Chapter 3 From the Apogee of the `Wood Age' to the Industrial Revolution 135 1 Reform, Revolution and the Wood Economy 136 2 The `Spectre of Shortage': Did the Timber Trade Face Catastrophe? 156 3 The Forest: From Living Space to Capital 172 4 Wood Consumers: Economies in the Home and Outside 205 5 Rollback 228 Chapter 4 Wood in the High Industrial Age: Degradation and Rebirth 239 1 The Forest as an Economic Factor 240 2 Technological Revolution in the Timber Industry 256 3 Fissile Material and Bonding Agent: Forest and Wood in the Eco- Age 276 Chapter 5 Global Prospects and Contrasts 294 1 Lessons from Asia 295 2 Conflicts and (Ostensible) Solutions 318 3 Looking Back to the Future: Six Spotlights on the History of Forest and Wood 324 Postscript: The Mystery of Certificates, or, Sustainable Forestry versus Greenwashing 327 Wood Talk 330 References and Bibliography 340 Index 376