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Ladders to Heaven Hardcover – 8 September 2016

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 ratings

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"The complex web of ecological connections between fig trees, tropical forest animals and plants, as well as people and human culture is nothing short of a marvel. [Ladders to Heaven] is a page-turner and a revelation: You will never think of a fig as just something to eat again. There is no a better way to introduce the complexity and wonder of nature – and our intricate relationship with it. A must read." (Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University; Fellow, National Geographic Society)

"This book concerns the stunningly versatile and ancient family of fig trees now being used as a framework species to restore damaged tropical forests. Figs are not only considered the keystone species in forests but are perhaps the world’s most perfect tree – they provide highly nutritious fruits with health-giving and medicinal qualities. They attract birds and animals. They grow very rapidly and produce abundant fruits in a few years. They make shade and shelter, their deep powerful roots can break up compacted soils, they draw up water, they prevent erosion, and they have important spiritual qualities. The tree in the Garden of Eden was very likely not an apple but a fig." (Annie Proulx)

"Surprising, engrossing, disturbing, and promising, [Ladders to Heaven] combines masterful storytelling and spellbinding science. This is a beautifully-written and important book about trees that have shaped human destiny." (Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus)

"A real labour of love, concisely and elegantly told." (Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild; environmental consultant for New Scientist)

"Rainforest ecologist Mike Shanahan charts a lifelong love affair with figs, one that has taken him from India to Kenya, through temples and rainforests, all in search of a deeper understanding of what he describes as ‘humanity’s relationship with nature.’ The fig becomes a tasty lens that reveals not only the fruit’s cultural and biological significance but our relationship to that which most deeply nourishes us." (Simran Sethi, author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate)

"In his insightful book … Mike Shanahan combines poetry and science, history and humanity, to tell a story not only of the fig tree but of life on Earth in all its beautiful and astonishing complexity. In doing so, he reminds us of what a remarkable place we inhabit―and how much we should all want to protect and preserve it." (Deborah Blum, Director, Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT; author of The Poisoner’s Handbook)

"My mind has been blown … Absolutely wonderful … My book of the year" (Mike McGrath, host, You Bet Your Garden, WHYY Public Radio)

"[A] cool new book on the deep weirdness, sexual and otherwise, of figs." (Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma)

"The author romps through the history, biology and culture surrounding fig trees with style. Writing fact-packed non-fiction in a way which captivates and enthrals, in language that is accessible to a wide audience, Shanahan reveals a masterful touch. A highly recommended insight into an amazing tree genus." (Gabriel Hemery, author of The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life and The New Sylva)

"A lovely little book, a real pleasure." (Alex Renton, author of Planet Carnivore and Stiff Upper Lip)

About the Author

Mike Shanahan is a freelance writer with a doctorate in rainforest ecology. He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, investigated illegal bear farms, produced award-winning journalism and spent several weeks of his life at the annual United Nations climate change negotiations. He is interested in what people think about nature and our place in it. His freelance journalism includes work published by The Economist, Nature, The Ecologist and Ensia, and chapters of Dry: Life without Water (Harvard University Press); Climate Change and the Media (Peter Lang Publishing) and Culture and Climate Change: Narratives (Shed). He is the illustrator of Extraordinary Animals (Greenwood Publishing Group) and maintains a blog called Under the Banyan.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
20 customer ratings
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Reviewed in India on 1 July 2019
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Reviewed in India on 6 October 2016
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Reviewed in India on 22 May 2018

Top international reviews

Angharad
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved so much we bought 3 copies
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2018
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Creativebeing
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on trees!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 May 2019
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Alan Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars Fig trees!!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting facts but not boring or tedious to read at all
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2017
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margot waters
5.0 out of 5 stars should be better
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 June 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 February 2019
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Barbara Vellacott
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 November 2016
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Dr.M.M.Bayton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 January 2017
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Alan G. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 September 2016
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Cliente de Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars Gran autor
Reviewed in Mexico on 15 September 2019
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Gaye
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 February 2017
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Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Ladders to Heaven and short steps to Hell
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware
Reviewed in the United States on 13 April 2019
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C. Moschopoulos
5.0 out of 5 stars What an fascinating topic!
Reviewed in the United States on 2 February 2019
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Pamela Mosley
5.0 out of 5 stars This book shines with contagious appreciation!
Reviewed in the United States on 30 January 2020
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