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“A thorough and engaging history of Maine’s rocky coast and its tough-minded people.”—Boston Herald
“[A] well-researched and well-written cultural and ecological history of stubborn perseverance.”—USA Today
For more than four hundred years the people of coastal Maine have clung to their rocky, wind-swept lands, resisting outsiders’ attempts to control them while harvesting the astonishing bounty of the Gulf of Maine. Today’s independent, self-sufficient lobstermen belong to the communities imbued with a European sense of ties between land and people, but threatened by the forces of homogenization spreading up the eastern seaboard.
In the tradition of William Warner’s Beautiful Swimmers, veteran journalist Colin Woodard (author of American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good) traces the history of the rugged fishing communities that dot the coast of Maine and the prized crustacean that has long provided their livelihood. Through forgotten wars and rebellions, and with a deep tradition of resistance to interference by people “from away,” Maine’s lobstermen have defended an earlier vision of America while defying the “tragedy of the commons”—the notion that people always overexploit their shared property. Instead, these icons of American individualism represent a rare example of true communal values and collaboration through grit, courage, and hard-won wisdom.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.43(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.82(d)|
|Age Range:||18 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Colin Woodard, an award-winning writer and journalist, is currently the state and national affairs writer at the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram and received a 2012 George Polk Award for an investigative project he did for those papers. A longtime foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, he has reported from more than fifty foreign countries and seven continents. His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Economist, Smithsonian, The Washington Post, Politico, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, Bloomberg View, and Washington Monthly. A graduate of Tufts University and the University of Chicago, he is the author of several books, including American Nations and The Republic of Pirates.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier is a very well written synthesis of coastal Maine's cultural and political history, land and sea ecology and ultimately of the choices this coastal area is facing going forward. Colin Woodard, a Maine native, with a deep appreciation for this region on the fringe of the northeast center's of population, writes with engaging detail of the challenges of living on Maine's coast, while showing how the long term residents have a deep since of rootedness of place. A good half of this 300 page work is an overview of Maine's history from the beginning of European colonization to the present day. While relatively short, this overview, with vivid told details, shows how the residents of these shores, from natives, to colonizers to those facing the brunt of closing paper mills and fish processing plants, have faced being overrun by outside influencers. Reading this, you can certainly understand why Maine is so much different and out of the orbit of the rest of the northeast, and see why a spirit of self determination has become part of the character of those who live in this rich, but hard land. Woodard writes with great detail to show the importance of ecology and the interconnectedness of how people relate to resources and each other. For instance, his accounts of how modern, suburban housing subdivisions and retail centers work counter to productive uses of labor and the traditional ways of life is important. Also, his work shows how scientists who study the ecology of lobsters, the collapse of the cod and haddock fish stocks and how understanding the role of harvesting and nurturing sea life is more than a function of data, but is in every way of ecology and understanding how multiple systems depend on each other. Repeatedly, the Lobster Coast shows a tension of living. This tension is best described as one that works on how individuals work together, but struggle against hard circumstances, while often working against outside influences that simply want to extract resources in ways that ultimately harm the land and people more than it can replenish. While a social and cultural history of the edge of the northeastern USA, this work also can show how many regions struggle to make a living in the midst of post industrial, global capitalism. The Lobster Coast was written in the years before the 2008 Financial Crisis, so the elements that stretched so many have only accelerated in Maine since then, and the suburbinazation of the Maine coast has continued in fits and starts, and more mills have shut for good. As history that connects how many different elements create a culture that still works to maintain an identity, this is a very engaging read and well worth the time to think through.
I grew up in Maine, but in this book I learned many things about my home state that I never knew before. Where the people who settled the Maine coast came from, and why my mother, from West Virginia, had no trouble fitting in. How Maine became "a colony of a colony". How Maine's history is tied to the history of the English civil war. Who places in Maine are named for, many of whom were NOT very nice people. Why there are so many "summer people". What happened to all the fish in the Gulf of Maine. And, of course, all about lobsters, including their mating habits, and how lobster traps really work. Also highly recommended: Woodard's "American Nations".
If you plan to visit Maine’s storied coast or simply want to better understand its rich and surprising history and culture, this book is a must-read. It is the fascinating story of Maine’s lobster fishing but it is also a colorful and very human account of the evolution of the people and economy of Maine’s Atlantic coast. I bought this book for my husband who likes to read in depth about places we travel. He referenced this book so often as we explored the coast of Maine that I read the book myself as soon as we got home. I highly recommend “Lobter Coast” as a good read or great gift.
Easy read full of coastal maine historical facts Loved this book