From Publishers Weekly
From Robinson Crusoe to CBS's Survivor, islands have always exerted a special fascination. Clarke, a self-professed islomaniac and author of Pearl Harbor Ghosts, attempts to better understand this phenomenon by visiting different types of islands in this well-written, if sometimes rambling, travelogue. He surveys islands that have inspired famous stories like South Pacific, islands that have personal meaning for him (such as the one on which he spent his honeymoon), islands with utopian societies, prison islands and private islands owned by rich individuals. He even searches for a perfect, undiscovered island unaffected by modern influences. Clarke vividly captures the uniqueness of each island, relating its history, conversing with the locals, immersing himself in the local culture and expertly describing the landscape. He also displays an awareness of the challenges provoked by a tourism industry that threatens native culture and of rising sea levels caused by global warming. An added bonus is Clarke's unearthing of the sources behind various literary characters; he introduces us to the real "Bloody Mary" and the cave where Alexander Selkirk, the model for Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, lived for four and a half years. Though the book's loose narrative may put off some readers, true island lovers will enjoy its exotic anecdotes and colorful, authoritative prose. (Feb. 1)Forecast: Due out in the dead of winter and boosted by a first serial to Cond Nast Traveler, this book could do well. It may even ride on the expected success of the just-released Tom Hanks's vehicle, Castaway.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
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, Clarke also visits Campobello, the Canadian Island where FDR spent his boyhood summers; the Holy Island of Patmos; the Asian prison island of Phu Koc; and the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, a Norwegian-administered archipelago 600 miles south of the North Pole. At Banda Neira in the Spice Islands, the author observes the slow and peaceful lifestyle, where the loudest night noises "came from the click of bicycle pedals and the slap of dominoes." Throughout, lone traveler Clarke explores the lure and lore of islands, including paradise, utopia, myth, mutiny, starvation, exploitation, disease, and stunning beauty. He even has a prediction for the future: in the age of Club Med and international jetports, with "the last real islands" threatened by global warming, world communication, and cruise ships boasting more people than the places they visit, the one-red-telephone-booth island is a relic. Highly recommended for public libraries.DMargaret W. Norton, Oak Park, IL
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.