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Almost an Island: Travels in Baja California Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Almost an Island: Travels in Baja California + The Log from the Sea of Cortez (Penguin Classics) + The Desert Islands of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816519021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816519026
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the natural marvels of the 800-mile-long Mexican peninsula called Baja California are not scanted in this freewheeling exploration, it's the human inhabitants that underscore its uniqueness. Berger, award-winning author of The Telling Distance (1990), erstwhile piano player ready for adventure, chronicles his three-decade love affair with this timeless landscape of desert, lagoons, caves and remote ranges, as well as the people of its cities and towns. One of those cities is LaPaz in Baja California Sur, to which a third of the book is devoted. ("LaPaz was one of those places that bored the tourist while whispering to a struck minority: here you must live.") As a resident foreigner whose affection does not close his eyes to contemporary societal evils, Berger is an objective observer. As a "specialist in the state of Baja California," he treats the reader to a pithy history of the upper and lower peninsula, with views of the Spanish colonizers, the controversial missionaries, especially the Jesuits, and the ongoing flinty relationship of the U.S. and this Mexican territory. Berger the raconteur entertains as he cautions against the intrusions made possible by paved roads and highways.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Berger, a Western States Book Award Winner for The Telling Distance (Univ. of Arizona, 1990), lived and traveled in Baja, CA, for three decades. Here he paints a vivid picture of this unique place he refers to as "almost an island." In a fight to protect this shrinking wilderness, he covers the history of the native peoples, the invasion of the Spaniards, modern-day tourists, contemporary settlements, and the everyday life of the permanent and transient residents of the peninsula. He also charts how the 20th century has finally caught up with Baja; as tourism flourishes, the rich history disappears. More homage to a once-wild corner of the North American continent than guidebook, this is recommended for public and academic libraries.?Sandra Knowles, Univ. of South Carolina Sch. of Medicine Lib., Columbia
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Visit www.bruceberger.net

Award-winning nonfiction writer and poet Bruce Berger is the author of ten books and is best known for his works exploring the intersection of nature and culture, usually in desert settings. Those works include the essay collection THE TELLING DISTANCE: Conversations with The American Desert (winner of the 1990 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and the 1991 Colorado Book Award); THERE WAS A RIVER, its title piece a narrative of what was probably the last trip on the Colorado River through Glen Canyon before its inundation by Lake Powell; and ALMOST AN ISLAND, which recounts three decades of exploration and friendships in Baja California. His desert writing has been widely anthologized. Mr. Berger's recent book is OASIS OF STONE, in collaboration with award-winning photographer Miguel Angel de la Cueva. "A knock-out look at Baja California Sur" The San Diego Union-Tribune. Winner of the 2006 ForeWord Silver Award for nature writing.

His work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including THE NEW YORK TIMES, BARRON'S and OUTSIDE. For three years he was a contributing editor at AMERICAN WAY.

In October of 2008 Mr. Berger was selected by The Department of State to represent the United States at an international literary conference held in northern India. After the conference he was invited to spend a week reading from his works in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Mr. Berger was born in Evanston, Illinois. He is a graduate of Yale University.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Nobles VINE VOICE on February 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I enjoy travel and have just returned from a wonderful trip to Baja, CA. Well, I didn't actually get to go in person but I did the next best thing. I just finished reading Berger's story of his experiences over three decades in the remotest region of the Sonoran desert, Baja, CA. Berger is a prolific writer and author of numerous books including There Was a River and The Telling Distance, which won both a Western States Book Award and a Colorado Book Authors award. He has an ongoing love affair with Baja(30 years) and it shows no sign of abating. Almost an Island is not your typical travel book.They are a dime a dozen. This book is a collection of stories, history, politics and reminiscence of the real Baja. It's a human story about real characters, agonizingly beautiful and harsh geography, and a future as uncertain as the paved highway recently built in part to encourage "economic development" and bring the "advantages" of modern living to the populace via tourism. When you go with Berger you are a traveler rather than a tourist. You will visit remote places and meet people that most tourists never see. The characters are unforgettable and, well, eccentric to say the least. Come along and meet Brandy, a Marine Corps veteran with scarred lungs, that traverses the desert in a dune buggy and oxygen tanks. How about spending some time with an innkeeper from Hollywood, nuns that raise pigs under questionable circumstances, and a former Detroit auto executive that walked away from a career and settled on a beach. The story of the activities surrounding a total eclipse is hilarious. There are stories of a pet tarantula, pronghorn antelope, and a million points of light in between. Berger is a keen observer of every thing he sees and experiences.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By aggie l on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
What a treasure this book turned out to be! In 1973 Baja California Sur was still a territory, wild and unforgiving in terrain. Bruce Berger takes you on an outback adventure, weaving history, geography and culture into an irresistible feast for the rustically inclined. I personally have read it at least five times, and it remains a mainstay of my home library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert N. Jenkins on February 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having spent much of 30 years visiting and then living in Baja California Sur, Bruce Berger did us all a favor by mixing insight, curiosity and gentle good humor to reflect on the region. Berger also offers a smart take on the early European history of the areas, then moves to the later 20th century and the impact of in-migration and tourist development measured against the communal eccentricities of a place that had its own charm. You might even be envious of Berger's experiences and acquaintances.

Consequently, the book is entertaining reading. It might even put a visit to the peninsula on your wish list.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Eggo on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book--it moseys along in a non-travelogue way, but at the end you really feel you know the place better than if you'd read a bunch of fact-filled travel books. The author has a gorgeous way of writing. Highly recommended.
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