Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bayby William W. Warner, John Barth (Introduction)
William Warner exhibits his skill as a naturalist and as a writer in this Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the pugnacious Atlantic blue crab and of its Chesapeake Bay territory. Penguin Nature Library.
- Little, Brown and Company
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- 5.50(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.87(d)
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This book is outstanding. It tells the history of the Chesapeake Bay, from prehistoric times, when it was formed from a glacier, to the present, when the Beautiful Swimmers (the English translation for the Latin name of the crab) are caught by men who 'follow the water.' The term Waterman is an old English term, and the Watermen follow a lifestyle which hasn't changed much -- still catching the crabs from sailboats. This book will teach you how to efficiently eat a crab, but it teaches us all much about life of a hard working group of men, their backbreaking work, their sense of humor, and their code of ethics. I recommend it to anyone who likes the outdoors, or likes to eat seafood, or is interested in the ecology of the largest estuary in the world. There are many reasons why this is Pulitzer Prize winner.
I have a sister that lives in Salisbury, MD and as a result of visiting her I have become very familiar with the Eastern Shore and have fallen in love with it. The marshes, estuaries, and the Chesapeake Bay are all very special to me, and this book is as well. The author discusses a variety of topics; ecology of the Bay, the biology and life cycle of the blue crab, the ways of making a living for the watermen of the Eastern Shore, the history of the small towns and islands, all with such a grace and beauty of writing style that makes this an absolute joy to read. Anyone interested in the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, the towns and islands of the Eastern Shore, or the fascinating people and ways of life that make up these areas will fall in love with this book. Similiar to the Chesapeake Bay, this book is a treasure.
Picked it up randomly at a library and loved every minute of it. Having grown up in Maryland, had a college roommate from Tangier Island, and worked in Annapolis, I found special meaning in it, but you need not be from the area to enjoy it. The prose is as quiet and heroic as the crabs, oysters, and watermen, themselves.