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Publisher's Summary

Before 1910 the American chestnut was one of the most common trees in the eastern United States. An important natural resource, chestnut wood was preferred for woodworking, fencing, and building construction, as it was rot resistant and straight grained. The hearty and delicious nuts also fed wildlife, people, and livestock.

Ironically, the tree that most piqued the emotions of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans has virtually disappeared from the eastern United States. After a blight fungus was introduced into the United States during the late nineteenth century, the American chestnut became functionally extinct. Although the virtual eradication of the species caused one of the greatest ecological catastrophes since the last ice age, considerable folklore about the American chestnut remains.

The American Chestnut tells the story of the American chestnut from Native American prehistory through the Civil War and the Great Depression. Davis documents the tree's impact on nineteenth-and early twentieth-century American life, including the decorative and culinary arts. The author also evaluates efforts to restore the American chestnut to its former place in the eastern deciduous forest, including modern attempts to genetically modify the species.

©2021 The University of Georgia Press (P)2022 Tantor

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