Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Ladders to Heaven Blog Tour
6 September 2018
My thanks to the author, publisher and Random Things Tours for my copy of the book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
What's it all about...
A stunning survey of the extraordinary and surprising ways that fig trees have shaped human civilisation – and could enrich our future.
Fig trees have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways: they are wish fulfillers, rainforest royalty, more precious than gold. In Ladders to Heaven tells their incredible story, beautifully peppered with original hand-drawn illustrations
They fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played a key role in the birth of civilisation. More recently, they helped restore life after Krakatoa’s catastrophic eruption and proved instrumental in Kenya’s struggle for independence.
Figs now sustain more species of bird and mammal than any other fruit – in a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, they offer hope. Theirs is a story about humanity’s relationship with nature, as relevant to our past as it is to our future.
What did I think about it...
Sometimes a book takes you by surprise and takes you to places you didn’t know existed and offers information you never knew you needed to know. In Ladders to Heaven the author, with great enthusiasm and knowledge, leads us through the fascinating subject of fig trees and of their utmost importance to our planet’s ecological stability. Over 750 species of ficus are known to exist with more being discovered all the time and their relevance to our environment cannot be overstated.
The author writes with great authority on the subject and it is obvious that he cares deeply about the impact that the loss of this giant species would have on our bio network if ever they were lost. Over the course of the book and almost without realising it I developed huge sympathy for fig trees and read in fascination at the diverse eco-system they maintain, in particular. the plight of the fig-wasp who must have the perfect conditions before the female can make her perilous journey to lay eggs in the Ficus Sycomorus. The successful outcome of this pairing ensures the survival of many animals and helps to sustain the future of our rain forests.
Scattered throughout the book are stark but beautiful black and white line drawing illustrations which add a real gift to the narrative and allow a pictorial glimpse into the secret world of fig trees.
I found the book really relatable and enjoyed each chapter as it unearthed more fascinating facts and snippets of information, particularly about the importance of fig trees, not just how they have contributed to the well-being of our planet for millions of years and how they will, with the right environment, continue to do so for many more years to come.
About the Author
Mike Shanahan is a freelance writer and illustrator with a doctorate in rainforest ecology. He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, investigated illegal bear farms and produced award-winning journalism. His writing includes work published by The Economist, Nature, New Scientist, BBC Earth, Scientific American and Newsweek.
Twitter @shanahanmike #LaddersToHeaven