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.
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