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The Enduring Shore: A History of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Hardcover – May 8, 2000

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Billed as the first history of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Elizabeth Islands in 50 years, this animated if loosely organized book blends stories of the region's rich heritage with tales of the author's adventures kayaking the local current-riven waters. A Vineyard resident himself, Schneider begins by describing the culture of the area's Nauset and Wampanoag Indians, noting that they had 125 years of contact with adventurous Europeans before the Mayflower's Pilgrims clambered ashore in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. Schneider identifies the geological machinations of the last ice age, which engulfed the northern half of the continent and sculpted the cape, islands and shoals he clearly loves. He retells the tragedy of the whaleship Essex as he juggles his way through New England's whaling heyday. More contemporary topics--such as the current milieus of the various communities and the ecological ravages of DDT in the 1960s--also emerge and recede in an energetic whirl of information. But Schneider's method is more enthusiastic than rigorous, often clouding the chronology of events. Though his literary prose can be engaging, some readers may tire of his rambling. A history of place is especially prone to fragmentation, and this talented writer has allowed his book to succumb to that weakness. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Cape Cod, and its associated islands, is a storied seascape that has seen come and go the Wampanoag people, the Pilgrims, the whalers. The summer residents now seem a stable presence, but their day, too, will pass when their real estate washes away in a few hundred or few thousand years. Schneider reports on the various inhabitants by kayaking about the sounds, bays, and harbors of the area and by recasting for general interests the voluminous oeuvre on local history. Unlimbering first a natural history of the glaciers that created Cape Cod, Schneider proceeds to the human history, the recorded portion of which began with William Bradford's religious sect. They arrived to a land depopulated by a plague. With the survivors, led by the Wampanoag natives, Bradford arranged a peace that held until King Philip's War of 1675. Schneider freshens these chapters of history with a meditative mix about landscape, history, and people. Despite its encrustations of modern amenities, the Cape Cod region remains an enchanting one, according to Schneider's admiring salute. Gilbert Taylor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (May 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805059288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805059281
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,543,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, a college town in the western half of the state. Went to public high school then Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. After stints working with refugees in Thailand, prep-school students in Switzerland, and a brief career as a wire-service stringer in Kenya, I settled into magazine journalism in New York City. On staff at Esquire, and freelancing all over town, (including Vanity Fair where I met my wife) I eventually found myself writing mostly about environmental issues, primarily for the National Aububon Magazine.

That work led to my first book, The Adirondacks, A History of America's First Wilderness, which was a New York Times notable book of 1997. My second book, The Enduring Shore, A History of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket, was also published by Henry Holt and was well received.

Sometime in between those two books I came across a very brief mention of the Cabeza de Vaca story in an obscure book on the old trails west. I knew immediately that I had to know more about this incredible story of four who survived and crossed America out of 400 who landed in Florida in 1528. That obsession eventually resulted in Brutal Journey, my newest book, which the New York Times called "hard to believe, and impossible to forget." Next was Bonnie and Clyde, which I wrote almost as a non-fiction novel, or oral history. The Oprah magazine called it "a biography so immediate it's almost an act of ventriloquism."

Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, was a labor of love for I grew up goofing around on rivers and have always wanted to write about the great stream in the middle of the country.

What's next? Not sure, but I'm also the editor of Martha's Vineyard Magazine, so I'm keeping busy here in paradise.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Seano on July 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The amazing deluge of tourism each summer truly ignores the elaborate history of some of New England's most beautiful coastline. For many of us who live or travel there when time and traffic allow there is this fine book to fill in the grey areas.
Unfortunately, regional history is not as popular to most readers as a spy novel or biography. This book bounces between the author's journeys in Kayak along the islands and coastline and the chronological history of travellers and settlers to the coast. There are humorous accounts of indian encounters, misguided settlers and an all too unpleasant tale of life aboard the Mayflower. Not all as we had once been told in grammar school.
The endnotes are substantial and the book can at times seem more academic than entertaining. However, I passed this on to two friends and we have laughed and shared our favorite stories over beverages. A good book and a nice read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Binyamin on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The romantic relationship between people and the land under their feet dates back, as the name suggests, to the Romantics of the 19th century. It was a relationship born of the truth that absence makes the heart grow fonder -- as cities grew, man longed for a natural world that was no longer readily at hand. And Cape Cod, that barren, sandy strip the Pilgrims had fled as soon as practicable, became a summer destination of choice for well-to-do New Englanders.
Paul Schneider's The Enduring Shore is the latest tribute to the Cape from one of its inhabitants-by-choice. And, in keeping with the long tradition of such works, it proclaims two truths: things used to be better, but the charms of the Cape endure all the same.
It is an eminently enjoyable fiction, this pretense that the Cape has always and will ever endure. And Schneider is a past master of the romantic form, sweeping the reader along with a well-crafted mix of local color, geographic history, and maybe-true legends. It is, in sum, wonderful summer reading, particularly for those who have themselves long felt some measure of love for the Cape.
For those who find they have enjoyed Schneider's book, I would recommend also Diana Muir's Reflections in Bullough's Pond, which does for New England as a whole what Schneider has done for the Cape in particular.
Romantic times and sunny days, after all, call for remembrance of things past, with a smile.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a person who has to be "grabbed" and held by a book, or my life takes over and the book gets lost. Paul Schneider's book not only grabs you, it sings to you. It's more than a history; it's a love song to sea and land, and to the weird and complicated people who have made their lives on and out of Cape Cod and the Islands. What I love most about this book is how it goes into history and out again into the landscape. It allows me to be, in my time, intimate with the wind and waves. Schneider is a very funny writer -- the prose keeps you reading at a good clip. But he's also a poet. This book covers the range of emotions and human interest, it holds you with its passion and its love for the land.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. McEwan VINE VOICE on July 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the perfect book to take with you on your Cape Cod vacation. It offers lots of interesting tales and stories about life on Cape Cod and the Islands from pre-Colonial times through the present, and also is one of the few books that actually treats the Native Americans in enough depth to provide the reader with an appreciation for how essential the natives' contributions were to the survival of the early European settlers. It also makes it quite clear that the natives no doubt regretted their helpfulness in short order, having been kidnapped, stolen from and otherwised abused by the newcomers very soon after they landed.

I always enjoy reading books about the places I visit while I'm there, so The Enduring Shore was perfect for my vacation to the outer Cape earlier this month. Schneider's discussion of the geology of the Cape is fascinating, and I will look at its cliffs and sandy beaches in a more knowing, deeper way henceforth.

I like to have two or more books going at once, usually one nonfiction and one fiction. A good complementary novel to read in conjunction with The Enduring Shore is William Martin's Cape Cod, which offers an abundance of useful and interesting facts about the Cape while delivering them in the context of a family saga that is perfect for beach reading.

I reecommend The Enduring Shore for anyone who is interested in how the Cape got that way and why it matters to so many of us today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is very pleasant reading, although it isn't history. It is more of a meander along the coast of the Cape and Islands. Paul Theroux expressed it well in his review in the New York Times, calling this a work of "intelligent peculiarity," and complaining that the history of the Cape and Islands that we are promised in the title, is never delivered in the text. What we get instead are Schneider's rather charming musings about topics like Pacific whaling and first encounters between Amerindians and Europeans. As Theroux points out, if someone actually wanted to understand the region, this book would, at best, provide a place to start. I enjoyed it, but on the whole I preferred Reflections in Bullough's Pond. Talk about misleading titles! What were they thinking to stick a word like 'Reflections' on a really fine book?
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