Searching for Crusoe: A Journey Among the Last Real Islands

Front Cover
Ballantine Books, 2001 - Travel - 342 pages
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They inspire feelings of great passion, serenity, and sometimes fear . . . they give people the opportunity to find themselves--or to lose their minds . . . they are revered as paradise or treated as junkyards . . . both haunted by and respectful of history . . . they are central to the myths and religions of many peoples throughout time . . . they provide a real, friendly community or the hell of repetitive social encounters . . . What is it about islands that has captivated millions of people around the world and through the centuries?

In a penetrating, brilliantly written book that weaves sociology, history, politics, personality, and ancient and popular culture into one compelling narrative, Thurston Clarke island-hops around the oceans of the world, searching for an explanation for the most passionate and enduring geographic love affair of all time--between humankind and islands.

Along the way Clarke visits the remote and silent Mas À Tierra, the island off the coast of Chile that inspired Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe; tropical Banda Neira, one of the Spice Islands, where its self-crowned prince hopes for nothing less than nutmeg's complete and glorious revival; sleepy, simple Campobello, the Canadian island where Franklin D. Roosevelt spent his boyhood summers; Patmos, with its imposing mountaintop monastery; Malekula, once the most notorious cannibal island in the world; and Jura in Scotland's Hebrides, where George Orwell wrote 1984--the island that turned Clarke into a islomane, someone Lawrence Durrell says experiences an "indescribable intoxication" at finding himself in "a little world surrounded by the sea."

Despite colonialism and missionary conversions, wartime scars and shrinking coasts, islands have thrived. Though each island is unique in its own way, Clarke discovers that the islanders themselves are a distinct people-- tranquilized by their watery horizons yet sensitive to the first shift in weather, conservative yet more likely to drop their inhibitions because no one is looking. And over every island falls the shadow of Robinson Crusoe, persuading us that islands are more liberating than confining, more contemplative than lonely, more holy than barbaric because we have been "removed from all the wickedness of the world." In a stunning work of wit, adventure, and incisive exploration, Thurston Clarke brings a unique passion to dazzling life.

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User Review  - JTJonesberry - LibraryThing

Lots of unexpected surprises as the author explores a variety of locations to examine man's love affair with islands. Suggested reading for my friends undersail. Read full review

Searching for Crusoe: a journey among the last real islands

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The award-winning author of the California Fault begins a world tour of island hopping by visiting M s Tierra, the island off the coast of Chile that inspired Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Along the way ... Read full review

Contents

THE FOUR BROTHERS
1
ATLANTISTHE MALDIVES
92
BELOVED ISLANDSFISHERS
119
Copyright

9 other sections not shown

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About the author (2001)

Thurston Clarke is the author of nine widely acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including California Fault, a New York Times notable book, Equator, By Blood and Fire, Pearl Harbor Ghosts, the basis for the CBS Pearl Harbor documentary, and the bestselling Lost Hero, which was made into an award-winning NBC miniseries about Raoul Wallenberg. He has written for Vanity Fair, Glamour, Outside, Travel Holiday, Condé Nast Traveler, and numerous other magazines and newspapers. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Publication Award for the Geographic Society of Chicago, and a Lowell Thomas Award for travel literature. He lives with his wife and three daughters on Lake Champlain in upstate New York.

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