Eric Rutkow : Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Eric Rutkow

Author, Lawyer, & Historian

Eric Rutkow is renowned as a”promising young historian.” His first book, American Canopy: Trees, Forests, And the Making of a Nation tells the extraordinary story of the relationship between Americans and trees across the entire span of the nation’s history. Like bestsellers Michael Pollan with Second Nature and Mark Kurlansky with Cod, Rutkow reconceives America’s historical relationship with the trees and forests that shaped the development of the nation.

As symbols of liberty, community, and civilization, trees are perhaps the loudest silent figures in America’s complicated history. Without trees, there would have been no ships, railroads, stockyards, wagons, barrels, furniture, newspapers, rifles, or firewood. How would we have built New York City, and Chicago? How would we have moved further west to the Pacific? A considerable part of the American ethos is the optimistic hard work necessary for building workable civilization out of undeveloped wilderness—and trees literally provided the tools necessary.

Chock full of colorful characters like Johnny Appleseed, Benjamin Franklin, FDR, and of course George Washington and his cherry tree, American Canopy and Rutkow’s presentations on the topic are as accessible and entertaining as it is thoroughly-researched. Audiences learn that as early as 1605, the British Crown coveted the trees of New England for use in building heavy wooden war ships, FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corp was the largest non-military governmental workforce in US history, and planted 3 billion trees. He was personally obsessed with trees and planted thousands on his own estate. At his death the lumber baron Frederick Weyerhaeuser was thought to control more than 50 million acres of the US, an area larger than the state of Wisconsin. During World War II, the Japanese tried to burn down the great forests of the Northwest, sending some 8,000 fire balloons aloft in the upper atmosphere with hopes they would land in the US.

Rutkow has presented arboretums, universities, historical societies, museums, libraries, and many other organizations all over the country. His topics on American Canopy and its political and environmental implications are perfect for history buffs and nature lovers alike and have been praised by members at all parts of the political spectrum.

Rutkow is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School who has worked as a lawyer on environmental and corporate issues. He currently splits his time between New York City and New Haven, Connecticut, where he is pursuing a doctorate in American history at Yale. American Canopy is his first book.

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  • The Roots of the Republic: Revolutionary Trees and the Birth of America
  • Proposing the Future: Why We Plant Trees
  • Twin Tragedies: How Dutch Elm Disease and Chestnut Blight Transformed the Nation
  • Climate Change and Food: Lessons from the Past for a More Secure Future


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