To most of us "mainlanders," the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are resort destinations, summer homes for the Kennedys, the Obamas, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. But after the tourists and jetsetters leave, the cold weather descends, and the local shop owners, carpenters, and fishermen ready themselves for the main event: high school football. For over fifty years, the local teams have been locking horns every November. They play for pride, a coveted trophy, and, very often, a shot at the league championship. Despite their tiny populations, both islands are dangerous on the football field.
This far-reaching book tells the story not only of the Whaler-Vineyarder rivalry, but of two places without a country. Filled with empty houses nine months of the year, Nantucket and the Vineyard have long, unique histories that include such oddities as an attempt to secede from the United States and the invention of a proprietary sign language. Delving into the rich history of both places, Sullivan paints a picture of a bygone New England, a place that has never stopped fighting for its life-and the rights to the Island Cup.
James Sullivan is the author of Seven Dirty Words, The Hardest Working Man, and Jeans. He has written extensively for the Boston Globe, and previously served as a feature writer and culture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He has spent considerable time, including his honeymoon, on the islands.