cover image Islands Under Fire: The Improbable Quest to Save the Corals of Puerto Rico

Islands Under Fire: The Improbable Quest to Save the Corals of Puerto Rico

Kevin McCarey. Ocean Publishing (IPG, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-9826940-8-4

The effort to save the corals of Puerto Rico, particularly those once subject to naval testing around the island of Culebra, is told firsthand by Captain McCarey, veteran merchant marine, active documentarian, and veritable old salt. This memoir, part travelogue and part natural history, is rich with humor, misadventure, and triumph. McCarey's writing is a pleasure, his penchant for simile and skill with dialogue particular delights. While exact dates are omitted and the placement in time is inexact%E2%80%94action is contextualized by references to concurrent events, such as Nixon's Presidency or the doings of Puerto Rico's political leaders%E2%80%94this flaw is a forgivable concession to form and style. Readers will learn about the history of Puerto Rico, its marine ecology, political landscape, and a bit about boats as well%E2%80%94all of which McCarey folds seamlessly into his fine seaman's tale. The action takes place as much onshore as off%E2%80%94McCarey's vessel, the R/V Maroho, being subject to its own array of pre-launch troubles. But never mind such complications, this is the tropics, so relax and let the captain take charge, as McCarey's maiden voyage into contemporary maritime non-fiction is an engrossing and joyful trip. (Nov.)