The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1987, Volume 33, Number 4
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Book Notes

This Well-Wooded Land: Americans and Their Forests from Colonial Times to the Present.

By Thomas R. Cox, Robert S. Maxwell, Phillip D. Thomas, and Joseph J. Malone. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985. Maps. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. 325 Pages. $27.95.

This Well-Wooded Land is now the standard one volume overview of the history of Americans and their forests. It was generated by the Forest History Society and is by four major figures in the field of forest history. The book covers Americans and their trees from the beginnings in the colonial period through the Bicentennial year of 1976. The volume is more than a mere chronological account of forest history; it integrates the American relationship with their forests into broader economic, social and intellectual themes. With one exception, there is almost nothing in the book which directly mentions San Diego, which is understandable considering the extent and role of forest industries in local development. The one exception is a brief five page introductory essay by Thomas R. Cox which contrasts San Diego with Tijuana. There are huge differences in the two cities – in land use, patterns of growth, building materials – which can not be explained fully by geographical factors. The real essence of the difference is cultural. By making that point Cox emphasizes the extent to which the United States is a forest-based culture – to the extent that the forest-based culture has created a “mode of life” which is “peculiarly American.” San Diego historians should seek out this introductory essay; in a few pages it provides sharp insights into the nature of San Diego and its history.