How Tropical Forests Shaped the World—and Us


By Patrick Roberts

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$24.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 14, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

"A bold, ambitious and truly wonderful history of the world"—Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees

From the age of dinosaurs to the first human cities, a groundbreaking new history of the planet that tropical forests made. 

To many of us, tropical forests are the domain of movies and novels. These dense, primordial wildernesses are beautiful to picture, but irrelevant to our lives.  

Jungle tells a different story. Archaeologist Patrick Roberts argues that tropical forests have shaped nearly every aspect of life on earth. They made the planet habitable, enabled the rise of dinosaurs and mammals, and spread flowering plants around the globe. New evidence also shows that humans evolved in jungles, developing agriculture and infrastructure unlike anything found elsewhere. 

Humanity’s fate is tied to the fate of tropical forests, and by understanding how earlier societies managed these habitats, we can learn to live more sustainably and equitably today. Blending cutting-edge research and incisive social commentary, Jungle is a bold new vision of who we are and where we come from. 
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  • Remarkable… In Jungle, Roberts builds a powerful, comprehensive narrative of the origin and plight of tropical landscapes and the people who call them home by integrating insights from archaeology, biology, geology, and political economy.” 
  • "Jungle is a bold, ambitious and truly wonderful history of the world that shows the vital importance of tropical forests to life on Earth."
    Peter Wohlleben, author of, The Hidden Life of Trees
  • "There are many books on the history of trilobites and dinosaurs and other animals, but so few on the history of plants. Here the dynamic young scientist Patrick Roberts tackles the history of the tropics, from the coal swamps of 300 million years ago, through the co-evolutionary dance of dinosaurs and mammals and flowers, to how our own human history has been shaped by vegetation. As environments are changing rapidly around us today, this is a timely, readable and highly relevant history that celebrates the wonder and importance of jungles."
    Steve Brusatte, author of, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
  • "A fascinating story and a crucial revision of the momentous importance of tropical forests to human history. Spanning from our very evolution as a species, to the early stages of globalisation and how we fill our kitchen cupboards today, we all owe far more to jungles than we realise."
    Lewis Dartnell, author of, Origins
  • "Welcome to the 'Jungle' – a breath-taking book showing that tropical forests were key to our evolution, provide fossil fuels for our modern carbon-hungry society and ultimately must be protected and restored if we are to have a future. This insightful and captivating book will ensure you never take our jungles for granted ever again."
    Mark Maslin, author of, How to Save Our Planet
  • "An enthralling jungle-journey from the origins of life on this planet to the present day, Jungle provides a brilliant new perspective on our interaction with tropical forests, placing them at the centre of human experience - and it delivers a timely warning about our abuse of the environment."
    David Abulafia, author of, The Great Sea
  • "Jungle sweeps the reader into the primordial heart of the earth, as if the crucible of life welcomed you to its sanctuary. Its revelations and stories will stir, rearrange and populate your mind for years to come. As a book, it is a joy, pure intellectual chocolate."
    Paul Hawken, author of, Drawdown
  • "Finally, a book on rainforests that does justice to their majesty and importance. Patrick Roberts skilfully and lucidly shows why tropical forests matter. He builds the case that people and tropical forests are intimately linked, whether you live in the rainforest or seemingly a world away. Those intricate links are more important than ever today, with ending deforestation playing a key role in solving the twin climate and biodiversity crises we face this century."
    Simon Lewis, author of, The Human Planet
  • “[A] thrilling reappraisal of our origins and our dependence on tropical forests… Many European and American books and films imply that tropical forests are incapable of sustainably supporting large human societies. Jungle provides a superbly argued refutation of this long-held view… a brilliant exploration of the importance of tropical forests to human evolution and our survival.”
    Literary Review

On Sale
Sep 14, 2021
Page Count
368 pages
Basic Books

Patrick Roberts

About the Author

Patrick Roberts is a W2 research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He is a National Geographic Explorer and has received numerous awards for his research on human evolution, including a €1.5 million European Research Council Starting Grant. He lives in Jena, Germany.

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