The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred

Publication date: 24 August 2017, Ebury Publishing

Source: e-book for review from the publishers

My rating: 5*

It was a delight to read The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred. It is not only full of information but also beautifully written and absolutely fascinating. If you have ever wondered how wildlife/nature documentaries are filmed this book has the answers.

James Aldred, a professional tree climber, wildlife cameraman, and adventurer, explains how he discovered that trees are places of refuge as well as providing unique vantage points to view the world. Trees enthral him, right from the time he first climbed into the canopy of an oak tree in the New Forest. Climbing trees gives him peace within himself and with the world around him. Since he first began climbing trees he has travelled the world climbing many of the world’s tallest trees, filming for the BBC and National Geographic magazine.

It’s incredibly dangerous work. It’s not only the difficulties of climbing some of the world’s tallest trees, but also dealing with extreme weather, attacks from animals, birds and a variety of insects. Perhaps the most horrifying was a sinister rash that appeared all over his body when he was in the Congo. This rash developed into ninety red angry boils, several of them on his head. Then he was woken by something moving beneath the skin of his scalp, squirming and wriggling around; the pain was unbearable. Each boil was home to spine-covered maggots that bot-flies, large black flies with bulbous red eyes, had laid under his skin!  He ended up in hospital with cerebral malaria.

I have always loved trees but I’ll never look at them again with the same eyes after reading this book – such strange and wonderful stories of the nature and significance of trees.

The Man Who Climbs Trees is a wonderful book, full of James Aldred’s adventures and his views on life and spirituality. I loved it. His travels brought him into contact with dozens of different religions and philosophies all containing ‘profound elements of truth’ that he respects very much, concluding that ‘spirituality is where you find it’ and he finds it ‘most easily when up in the trees’.

Added on 6 September 2017

There are no photos in this book but there are some in this article and an amazing video James took of the incredible Korowai tribe in Papua building a tree house. It’s well worth watching.

7 thoughts on “The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred”

  1. I do love trees and sometimes connect with them by laying my hand on their trunk. Tolkien had some great scenes of trees who decided to move to help in battle.

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  2. I love trees too, and I think I would enjoy this immensely, although the insect infestation leading to cerebral malaria would seriously freak me out. I like the notion that ‘spirituality is where you find it.’ I feel that way in nature so often. Excellent post.

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  3. Oh, this does sound great, Margaret. Trees are so much more than sources of shade, and it sounds as though the book is as much a good source of information as it is anything else. And well-written into the bargain? That’s great!

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