Islands Beyond the Horizon: The Life of Twenty of the World's Most Remote Places

Islands Beyond the Horizon: The Life of Twenty of the World's Most Remote Places

by Roger Lovegrove
     
 

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The remote island has held an enduring place in our collect imaginations, as a spur to our wanderlust and as the inspiration for such classic tales as Robinson Crusoe. Now, in this attractively illustrated volume—filled with numerous photographs and an eight-page color section—Roger Lovegrove has gathered, for the first time, the stories of twenty of the

Overview

The remote island has held an enduring place in our collect imaginations, as a spur to our wanderlust and as the inspiration for such classic tales as Robinson Crusoe. Now, in this attractively illustrated volume—filled with numerous photographs and an eight-page color section—Roger Lovegrove has gathered, for the first time, the stories of twenty of the most remote islands in the world.

Wandering over a wide geographical area, from the Arctic and the Antarctic to the Atlantic and Pacific, Lovegrove takes us to islands familiar and unknown, ranging from the storm-bound island of South Georgia and the ice-locked island of Wrangel to the wind-swept, wave-lashed islands of Mykines and St Kilda. We travel to Halfmoon Island, a haven for penguins near the Antarctic, to tropical Tuamotu in French Polynesia, to the beautiful volcanic island of Pico, and to Tristan da Cunha, perhaps the most remote place on earth. Lovegrove set us down on each of these far-off exotic places, describing the diverse wildlife and vegetation to be found there, and highlighting the impact humans have had on their fragile ecosystems. He shows how the presence of humans has been felt in a variety of ways, from the exploitation of birds for food to the elimination of native vegetation for crops, and he points to Guam is an extreme example—perhaps the extreme example—of the dreadful effects that we can have on an oceanic island. Once a tropical paradise, modern Guam is, he writes, "defined by the silence of the birds."

Throughout, Lovegrove reveals that whatever the nature of islands—distant, offshore, inhabited, uninhabited, tropical, or polar—their mystique and magnetism is irresistible. His Islands Beyond the Horizon will be the perfect escape for armchair travelers who yearn to visit far-flung exotic locales.

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:
9780199606498
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/12/2012
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Roger Lovegrove was Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Wales for 27 years and since retirement has been a member of the board of The Countryside Council for Wales. He is the author of some ten books, including Birds of Wales, The Red Kite's Tale, and most recently, Silent Fields.

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