Book Review: ‘The Man Who Climbs Trees’


I have just finished reading the most amazing book. I don’t usually gravitate towards auto-biographies, but a long time ago I snapped a photo on my phone when browsing in a bookshop, and the blurb stuck in my head. When I found myself at a lose end in Better Read Than Dead (Newtown) the other night, this was the book I found myself searching for.

The Man Who Climbs Trees may fall within the category of ‘auto-biographical novel’, but what it actually is is a long love letter; an ode, really, to the beauty and magnificence of trees. Superbly and evocatively written, James Aldred takes the reader on a journey both around the globe and across the decades as he recounts the climbs and trees which have left their mark on him. As a professional tree climber working for the BBC, Aldred has spent much of his life up in the canopy, constructing tree-top dwellings and helping film crews get the perfect shot of Sir David Attenborough hoisted hundreds of metres above ground. It makes for interesting reading.

Aldred’s passion for his work comes through in his writing style. Each chapter focuses on a new tree and climbing destination, and yet I never found myself tiring or growing confused, so well does he craft a sense of place, almost a sense of character, in the trees and their locations.

I have no doubt The Man Who Climbs Trees will leave readers with a head for heights yearning to go out and scale some megaliths. For those who prefer their feet firmly on the ground, maybe just start with the lemon tree in your back garden; after all tree climbing is about the journey, not just the view from the top…

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