How Tropical Forests Shaped World History – and Us


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

'A fascinating story and a crucial revision of the momentous importance of tropical forests to human history' Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins

Jungle tells the remarkable story of the world's tropical forests, from the arrival of the first plants millions of years ago to the role of tropical forests in the evolution of the world's atmosphere, the dinosaurs, the first mammals and even our own species and ancestors.

Highlighting provocative new evidence garnered from cutting-edge research, Dr Roberts shows, for example, that our view of humans as 'savannah specialists' is wildly wrong, and that the 'Anthropocene' began not with the Industrial Revolution, but potentially as early as 6,000 years ago in the tropics.

We see that the relationship between humankind and 'jungles' is deep-rooted, that we are all connected to their destruction, and that we must all act to save them. Urgent, clear-sighted and original, Jungle challenges the way we think about the world - and ourselves.

'Welcome to the "Jungle" - a breathtaking book' Mark Maslin, author of How to Save Our Planet

'Timely, readable and highly relevant' Steve Brusatte, author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

'Its revelations and stories will stir, rearrange and populate your mind for years to come' Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown

'Brilliant ... it delivers a timely warning about our abuse of the environment' David Abulafia, author of The Great Sea

'Finally, a book on rainforests that does justice to their majesty and importance' Simon Lewis, co-author of The Human Planet


  • 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

About the author

Patrick Roberts

Dr Patrick Roberts is W2 Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. He completed his PhD at Oxford University and has worked in tropical forests across the Amazon Basin, the lowlands of Sri Lanka, the Wet Tropics of Australia, and the island settings of Wallacea and wider Pacific. Recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including a European Research Council Starter Grant (€1.5 Million), he has written or co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and his work has featured on the BBC, Channel 4 and in The Times, among others. He is the author of the academic book Tropical Forest Prehistory, History and Modernity (OUP, 2019) and this is his first for a general readership.
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