Yet Fire on the Beach is not a mere biography. It's a fascinating portrait of 19th-century Outer Banks culture, long before these isolated little towns became tourist destinations. Authors David Wright and David Zoby, for instance, describe "wreckers" whose main occupation--a surprisingly profitable one--was combing the beach for the detritus of shipwrecks. The town of Nags Head apparently derives its odd name from this weird heritage: "Many claim that the name Nags Head originated in an era when malicious wreckers would tie a lantern around an old horse's neck and lead it up and down the dunes. From the sea, the rising and falling light would give the impression of a ship safely moored in a harbor, taunting unsuspecting ship captains to sail to their destructions." Even without these manmade deceptions, the seas off the coast of North Carolina were plenty treacherous, giving Etheridge and his men lots of rescue work. Race is a necessary and fundamental theme of the book, and Etheridge knew he would have to defy white skeptics by proving his abilities over and over: "There was no room for error. The continuation of the black station could be compromised by any slipup, no matter how slight. Misjudgment or poor performance could result in his or one of his crewmen's dismissal. Inadequacies, no matter how slight, could lead to the reinstatement of a white keeper and crew. They had to excel if they were to maintain their station." Fire on the Beach ultimately rises above the parochialism of race: It is a gripping story about "a man among the men" and his harrowing exploits. When Wright and Zoby describe Etheridge's role in saving the crew of the schooner E.S. Newman in hurricane conditions, the skin color of Etheridge and his men does not matter at all. Fans of The Perfect Storm and Isaac's Storm--books that mix thrilling sea stories with calamitous weather--are sure to enjoy Fire on the Beach. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a great history about the lifesaver. I didn't know they existed. This is rich history in the making!Published 15 months ago by Dleaton
Wright and Zoby do a great job of explaining the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Pea Island Life Saving Station surfmen. Read morePublished on July 11, 2008 by C. Mauney
The story of Richard Etheridge is fascinating and inspiring. It is unfortunate that its telling here is tedious and uneven.Published on September 14, 2004 by CarolinaReader
The book purports to tell the story of Richard Etheridge but the first third is about "Wilds African Brigade," a black brigade that committed murder, arson, looting and the hostage... Read morePublished on July 19, 2002