Island: How Islands Transform the World

J. Edward Chamberlin. BlueBridge (IPG, dist.), $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-933346-56-4
In this ambitious book about the lives and influence of islands, Chamberlin (Horse: How the Horse Shaped Civilization) delivers a head-spinning mashup of navigational history, mythology, crash-course geology, poetry, and pop culture. Each of the five sections is introduced with excerpts from the 1830 Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, invoking a time when “authoritative atlases and encyclopedias... were often either apologetically vague or absolutely wrong.” From there, Chamberlin, a professor at the University of Toronto, maps the wonders of Polynesia and the Galápagos Islands, the differences between Polynesian and European navigation techniques, the strange emergence of Surtsey island in Iceland in 1963, famous seafarers, literary isles and their inhabitants (like Prospero and Robinson Crusoe), and many more compelling facts and histories. Early on in the outing, the author makes clear his goal: to show how islands “define what it is to be human.” It’s an admirable if hyperbolic effort. Unfortunately, a lack of cohesion and clarity of purpose will leave readers feeling lost at sea, with little more than Chamberlin’s giddy sense of wonder to guide them. It’s a fun and interesting trip, but it never arrives at its port of call. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 03/01/2013
Ebook - 306 pages - 978-1-909653-39-9
Ebook - 310 pages - 978-1-933346-93-9
Hardcover - 241 pages - 978-1-909653-38-2
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-933346-95-3
Paperback - 241 pages - 978-1-933346-92-2
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-77086-293-7
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