Ever since humans have been travelling and telling tales, we have been fascinated by islands. Creation stories around the world speak of land rising out of the water, of islands beginning on the backs of turtles or as a result of the ingenuity of birds. The tradition continues into the modern era: from Noah to Prospero and Gulliver, from Ulysses to Robinson Crusoe and Anne of Green Gables, islands have fuelled the dreams of our storytellers.

Much of what makes islands so compelling are the natural forces that shape them: geological processes that wrench land up from the ocean floor, evolutionary shifts that cause naked rock to bloom with unique flora and fauna. These forces too have inspired explorers, scientists, settlers, sailors, and artists.

J. Edward Chamberlin draws on history, literature, art, anthropology, biology, and geology, to create a compelling and accessible exploration of the impact islands have made on human history. He has also written a poignant and powerful reminder of who and where we are: castaways, on our own island in space.


“A fascinating exploration and addition to the annals of maritime history … churns with all sorts of information … will appeal to the national geographer, ocean explorer and traveler.”
“A compact but dense study of ocean islands from cultural, biological, geological, literary, and historical perspectives. There is much interesting information in this small volume … The wealth of fascinating detail makes for an instructive and entertaining read.”
“An extremely pleasant read … as you’d hope with a book of this kind, there are serendipitous delights … Chamberlin’s anthropological expertise is not in doubt, and the currents of his prose are lively.”
“A delightful, enlightening book that employs islands as jumping-off points for essays on a wide range of topics … takes readers on a mind-expanding journey.”
“This well-crafted study … cites the conflict in human history between the impulse to settle down and the impulse to dream about other places… the best parts of Island are the oddities served up for our delectation by nature and history.”


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224 Pages
8.55in * 5.90in * .95in


September 01, 2013


Cormorant Books



Book Subjects:

HISTORY / Civilization

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