SABLE ISLAND: The Strange Origins and Curious History of a Dune Adrift in the Atlantic

Marq de Villers, Author, Sheila Hirtle, Author . Walker $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1432-9

This engaging natural history celebrates one of the world's most precarious landscapes, a sand spit 30 miles long and less than a mile wide, plunked down 100 miles from the Canadian coast. Continually gouged by wind and wave and stingily replenished with sand by the currents swirling around it, the evanescent but intractable island has wrecked hundreds of ships over the centuries while sheltering enough greenery and fresh water to maintain a herd of wild horses. De Villiers and Hirtle (coauthors of Sahara: The Extraordinary History of the World's Largest Desert ) explore the geological and oceanographic forces that shaped and maintain the island and the flora and fauna that cling to it. They also examine its place in human history, regaling readers with tales of the shipwreck tragedies that darken its past and recalling the many odd little communities of castaways, lifeguards and scientists that have washed up on its beaches. The island and its environs are now threatened by oil and gas drilling, rising sea levels and an ominous drift toward the continental shelf and the deep-sea abyss beyond. But while it lasts, a dynamic equilibrium fleetingly perched atop titanic forces of nature, the island is an apt metaphor for life itself. Agent, Bruce Westwood. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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