Alexander and Lazell's delightful study of North Carolina's Outer Banks contains a wealth of statistics and facts . . . A Ribbon of Sandwritten in romantic proseis more like a novel. . . . Small and lightweight with chapters of less than 20 pages, this is the perfect book to take on a trip to the North Carolina coast. Interesting and informative, you'll look at a grain of sand or a wave with a whole new perspective.TasteFullRibbon of Sand is a rich and beautifully written exploration of the unique natural history and romantic past of the Outer Banks, the fragile barrier islands that stretch for almost two hundred miles down the North Carolina coast. A new preface discusses recent developments on the Banks, including the discovery and excavation of a wreck believed to be Blackbeard's ship and the continuing threat of offshore oil drilling, and throughout the book the authors reveal the controversies, natural wonders, and fascinating legends that make the Outer Banks one of the nation's most beloved treasures.
About the Author
John Alexander has worked as a journalist and is now president of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina.
James Lazell is president of The Conservation Agency and lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
Table of Contents
1992 John Alexander and James Lazell; Preface CONTENTS
Chapter One: Sand
Chapter Two: Land
Chapter Three: Water
Chapter Four: Blackbeard
Chapter Five: Woods
Chapter Six: Trilogy
Chapter Seven: Flight
Chapter Eight: Convergences
What People are Saying About This
A delight and an education....Fixing their vision on the intersection of natural and human history, the authors offer compelling insights into the past, present, and future of the Outer Banks.
(Tom D. Crouch, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution )
Full of solid scientific lore but also very much attuned to the human element in interaction with the wonderful outdoors.Roy Parker Jr., Fayetteville Observer-Times
[A] chronicle of the inextricable connections between the natural history and human history of this ecosystem. . . . This book provides gentle yet informative reading to round out a portrait of the Outer Banks.Audubon Naturalist News
With a scientist's eye for the hidden complexities of the natural world and a historian's knowledge of how human undertakings are shaped byand shapethat world, Alexander and Lazell examine the lessons that the Outer Banks have to teach anyone seeking to understand the natural and human dynamics of America's threatened barrier islands.NC Home
A book to awaken wonder yet also apprehension. . . . Ribbon of Sand is superb.Sewanee Review
Leaves the reader with a clear sense of place and an understanding of the forces of wind and water.Publishers Weekly
A beautifully drawn picture of 'the resiliency and self-correcting mechanism of the natural order' at work on the Outer Banks.Outer Banks Magazine
A fascinating look at the Outer Banks. . . . [The authors] appreciate the vital importance of the Outer Banks as a unique, living, changing ecosystem. By the end of Ribbon of Sand, so do we.Islands
Whether describing Nature's part in Blackbeard's dramatic last battle or explaining the environmental issues of today's coast, this fine book paints a distinct portrait of a delicate ecosystem and how humans have forever affected it.In Southern Words
This is a guidebook to be taken along when exploring this fragile place that deserves to be preserved.Booklist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ribbons of Sand is no masterpiece in terms of writing. It is, in my opinion, average or slightly above. However, I believe that may lend to the book’s effectiveness. The sentences are generally clear and concise, without flowery writing to get in the way. In this it is both scientific and readable, two aspects that often seem mutually exclusive to many. Topics like the geology of the Banks or the forces that shape them are not off limits to the average reader. This geology and the formation of the Outer Banks is perhaps one of the most fascinating topics in the book. Unlike any other barrier reefs or islands in the world, these banks do not have a Pleistocene coral base. As described in Chapter 2, a graduate student named Robert Dolan undertook “a research project near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina” at the urging of one of his doctoral professors. Over the course of a year “he drilled 140 holes, some of them up to 100 ft deep” (20). His findings revealed that the banks were no older than 5000 years and comprise entirely of Holocene (the current period) sand. As described in the same chapter, the geography of the United States east coast is the catalyst of the Outer Banks’ formation. The combination of shallow, sloping continental shelf, “elbow capes,” and rising sea creates perfect conditions for the deposition of sand just off the coast of North Carolina. It’s amazing to me that something as simple as the shape of a coastline can have such a drastic effect on the surrounding geography. For contrast, the authors point out that Brazil has a similar continental shelf, but the lack of elbow capes keeps the reef from form barrier islands like those in North Carolina. I was waiting for the clarity to turn into scientific jargon and the humanly prose to turn sterile. Neither happened. Instead I was pleasantly surprised with an insightful, comprehensive, and varied study on one of North America’s most interesting natural phenomena. Ribbons of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean & the Outer Banks is a book that anyone with an interest in geography, the Outer Banks, or the amazing interactions of nature should pick up.
For those who like an understanding of the connectedness of living things and their environment, this book is a gem. Having read Ribbon of Sand while touring the coastal strand and maritime forest on Cape Hatteras, I felt much more informed by this account than by other, more simple travelogues. The authors do an excellent job of explaining in simple, clear language how water, wind and sand have shaped the Outer Banks, and what a future of rising sea levels and increasing human use may bring. The discussion of Outer Banks kingsnakes and how they have evolved is elegant and fun.