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Islands Beyond the Horizon: The life of twenty of the world's most remote places
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Islands Beyond the Horizon: The life of twenty of the world's most remote places

by Roger Lovegrove
 

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Islands have an irresistible attraction and an enduring appeal. Naturalist Roger Lovegrove has visited many of the most remote islands in the world, and in this book he takes the reader to twenty that fascinate him the most. Some are familiar but most are little known; they range from the storm-bound island of South Georgia and the ice-locked Arctic island of Wrangel

Overview

Islands have an irresistible attraction and an enduring appeal. Naturalist Roger Lovegrove has visited many of the most remote islands in the world, and in this book he takes the reader to twenty that fascinate him the most. Some are familiar but most are little known; they range from the storm-bound island of South Georgia and the ice-locked Arctic island of Wrangel to the wind-swept, wave-lashed Mykines and St Kilda. The range is diverse and spectacular; and whether distant, offshore, inhabited, uninhabited, tropical or polar, each is a unique self-contained habitat with a delicately-balanced ecosystem, and each has its own mystique and ineffable magnetism. Central to each story is also the impact of human settlers. Lovegrove recounts unforgettable tales of human endeavour, tragedy, and heroism. But consistently, he has to report on the mankind's negative impact on wildlife and habitats — from the exploitation of birds for food to the elimination of native vegetation for crops. By looking not only at the biodiversity of each island, but also the uneasy relationship between its wildlife and the involvement of man, he provides a richly detailed account of each island, its diverse wildlife, its human history, and the efforts of conservationists to retain these irreplaceable sites.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Welsh naturalist Lovegrove (Silent Fields) examines the flora, fauna, and peoples of far-flung and inaccessible islands that dot each of the major oceans to better understand both their allure and natural history. His field knowledge is extensive and exhaustive; few besides master ornithologists will be able to identify such birds as the Arctic skua on Mykines (in the Faroe Islands of the North Atlantic) or Leach’s petrels on St. Kilda (off Scotland’s western coast). Lovegrove fascinates when describing indigenous peoples’ folkways and struggles for survival, such as his graphic description of how the inhabitants of Pico (in the Azores) capture sperm whales. He also makes clear his belief that human settlement by nonindigenous people has made for “long-term ecological desecration” in such once pristine settings as Ile aux Aigrettes, a satellite island of Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean. Occasionally, Lovegrove can be cursory and almost condescendingly romantic, as in his depiction of the Cuna natives of San Blas (off Panama’s Caribbean coast) as “a fine-looking race, friendly and happy,” who “maintain their old religion, closely related to their medicinal beliefs.” However, this brief, idiosyncratic, colorful book introduces readers to oases of biodiversity that few are likely to visit and whose distinctiveness may soon be lost in an increasingly homogenized world. 20 b&w illus., 8-page color plate section, maps. (Nov.)
Library Journal
A bit of a geography nut, Lovegrove (former director, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Silent Fields), has an affinity for obscure islands. For his latest book, he chose 20 of them to write about, spread across five oceans and spanning pole to pole. Some names (e.g., Guam, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, the San Blas) will be recognizable to most readers, but many more will leave them without a clue. Who among us can easily pick out Wrangel, Mykines, St. Kilda, Halfmoon, and Great Skellig on a map? In each easy-to-digest chapter, Lovegrove paints a geological and historical picture of the island then provides a thorough description of its flora and fauna, both current and extinct. (Remember the dodo?) One island is so herpetologically beset that it makes Snakes on a Plane seem like a Disney movie. VERDICT A bird expert himself, Lovegrove shares liberal lists of the many feathered denizens on each island. But for readers who can't distinguish a kite from a tern, these narratives can become a bit tiresome. Recommended for all birders and readers who enjoy learning about quirky places.—Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191651908
Publisher:
OUP Oxford
Publication date:
09/13/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Roger Lovegrove was RSPB Director for Wales for 27 years and since retirement has been a member of the board of The Countryside Council for Wales, served on the Forestry Commission Advisory Committee for Wales, was chair of the Welsh woodland initiative (Ty Coed), and founder and later chairman of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. For twelve years he also served as a wildlife inspector for DEFRA. He is the author of some ten books, including Birds of Wales, The Red Kite's Tale, and more recently Silent Fields.

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