An engaging, well-illustrated natural and cultural history of the oldest living organism—the bristlecone pine. Since Edmund Schulman discovered in 1958 that individual bristlecones live nearly 5,000 years, the trees have been investigated primarily for the elaborate record their rings contain. The trees have been "read' closely, with major consequences for natural and human history. Historians have read local and global environmental change. Archaeologists have rewritten the history of civilization. Writers have transformed them into figures pertinent to the human dilemmas of time and eternity. A Garden of Bristlecones investigates professional and popular conceptions as a set of narratives drawn from the outside and inside of the trees. It reveals the premises of the investigators, the nature of their inquiry, and the extent of their knowledge, while also revealing the Great Basin bristlecone itself. Illustrations by Valerie Cohen.