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Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
     

Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island

4.4 14
by Will Harlan
 

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Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia, is the largest barrier island in the United States and one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Celebrated for its windswept dunes, sea turtles, and wild horses, the island is also famous for its human inhabitants. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie owned much of Cumberland, and his widow Lucy turned it into a Gilded

Overview


Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia, is the largest barrier island in the United States and one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Celebrated for its windswept dunes, sea turtles, and wild horses, the island is also famous for its human inhabitants. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie owned much of Cumberland, and his widow Lucy turned it into a Gilded Age playground. Generations later, when Carnegie heirs tried to turn the island into a lavish resort or a national park with millions of annual visitors, another island matriarch, and by far the most unusual, had her say.

Carol Ruckdeschel is one of the wildest women in America. She eats road kill, wrestles alligators, and dissects giant sea turtles—more than any other scientist, ever. She lives in a ramshackle cabin she built herself and is a whiskey-drinking, bareback-riding, modern-day Thoreau, who also happens to have shot and killed a man in self-defense. With only a high school diploma, Carol knows more about sea turtles than most marine biologists, and she wasn’t about to let Cumberland slip away. Untamed is the story of an American original standing her ground and fighting for what she believes in, no matter the cost.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Carol Ruckdeschel isn’t quite your mother's idea of a role model, but she is my idea of an inspiring woman. Her gifts are many, her commitment resolute, her contribution world-class. And boy—as you’ll read—has she had fun. What a story! It's as beautiful as the island she loves.”—Carl Safina, author of The View From Lazy Point and A Sea in Flames

“Now THIS is an adventure story. The Island Keeper is the true-life saga of a brilliant, beautiful woman who became her own tall tale. Just to survive, Carol Ruckdeschel had to become as elusive and mysterious as the creatures she first set off into the wilderness to study. Hunted by her enemies, stalked by an ex-lover, living off the land, Ruckdeschel found herself locked in a battle of wits to stay alive and pursue her scientific passion. This is no Sad Girl On a One-Year Quest For Love & Backbone; Carol Ruckdeschel is on a mission, and she's smart and lethal enough to deal with anyone who tries to stop her.”—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-10
Blue Ridge Outdoors editor in chief Harlan intimately and expansively profiles a fearless Southern island dweller.A small, bridgeless barrier island off the Georgia coast, Cumberland is home to countless endangered species and three major ecosystem regions. It is also home to Carol Ruckdeschel, a self-taught biologist who has integrated herself into the lush landscape and lived off the land for much of her adult life. Harlan met this intrepid "Jane Goodall of sea turtles" while he was a park ranger and shadowed her for two decades, impeccably documenting in field notes and journals her ramshackle cabin life of "packrat practicality." Ruckdeschel was a rowdy only child born during the early stages of World War II, a solitary, curious tomboy who skipped church to commune with feral cats and turtles while her father taught her to shoot rifles and appreciate liquor. Her interest in the biological world bled into young adulthood; she was obsessed with dissecting animal carcasses as she taught herself outdoor skills and drank, which expelled her from college. Undeterred, Ruckdeschel immersed herself in natural history studies and married the first of her three husbands, all of whom she would divorce. Perhaps to soothe a broken heart, Harlan presumes, she retreated for the marshes and mountains of Cumberland, where she has resided as an increasingly feral inhabitant ever since. Her grass-roots activism has kept her spirited love of the island and its wild inhabitants sustained as she forcefully combats developers thirsty to capitalize on the land's natural resources and sweeping vistas. Harlan's painstaking detailing of the island's history includes the legacy of the Carnegie family and the ruins of their antebellum plantation houses and mansions. Ruckdeschel's extremist legacy and tireless wilderness preservation campaigns are sweepingly recorded here in arresting detail.A moving homage and an adventure story that artfully articulates the ferocities of nature and humanity.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802122582
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
243,842
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author


Will Harlan is the editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors, the country’s largest regional outdoor magazine. A top trail runner and a long-time journalist, his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and elsewhere.

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Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
SanKirk More than 1 year ago
It'll take your breath away from the prologue and you'll feel like holding it till the end. This book is about the preciousness of our wilderness areas and the epic efforts of a most inspiring, unbelievably strong and single-minded, woman of our times, Carol Ruckdeschel. It should be read by women as an inspiring role model, by men and women who work for sustaining the diversity of our world and by those who should learn about sustaining the diversity, as well as by anyone who loves beautiful writing. I loved this book…it haunts dreams, inspires, increases daily-living awareness, and makes me grateful for those of Carol’s and Will’s ilk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An exceptionally well told story of a complex, unique and gritty woman who has defied all odds to fight for what she believes in. It is hard to believe it is a true story. Compelling, well written and engaging. I could not put it down. Harlan knits together not just Carol's story, but the story of the island and the plight of the sea turtle. A praise -worthy first book.
velocireaderLC More than 1 year ago
My husband knows Carol and I've been to Cumberland many times. It is a very special place but I fear for it's future when Carol is no longer able to continue her fight. This book portrays Carol Ruckdeschel as a true hero with grit and dedication so very rare in our material greed driven world. I was captivated from the very first page until the very last. It has stayed with me
Swampgal2 More than 1 year ago
Required reading for anyone  who knows and loves Cumberland Island. This beautifully written story fills in lots of gaps. But beware, you may well be moved to tears -- or better yet-- to action.
efm More than 1 year ago
Amazing woman and her conservation accomplishments all while living like a castaway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A MUST READ FOR FOLKS WHO ARE NOT YET ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE
readerx More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book about a fascinating personality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Untamedwas by far the best written and the most interesting book i've read this year. I list it among my favorite reads. Kudos to carol and her environmental impact on cumberland island. Her lifetime accomplishments and unique lifestyle have raised awareness of the world's need to protect our lands and wildlife. A greatbook one youdidn want to putdown until tbe end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cu.ms in you and dies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Get the hell out of my book!" I say
judyd1 More than 1 year ago
good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago