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The Living Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World Hardcover – September 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It is no small achievement to take a quest for a rare, relatively unknown oyster and spin it into a delightful and never didactic instruction on marine conservation from the Chesapeake to Puget Sound. The once abundant Olympia oyster, or Oly, now exists in only a few areas of the jagged Pacific Northwest coastline, and Jacobson (Fruitless Fall) and a merry band of conservationists and scientists set out to find the elusive bivalve and illustrate the vital ecosystem that both sustains and is sustained by oysters. Oysters are ecosystem engineers, Jacobson explains; their depletion sucks the life out of estuaries and oceans. He demonstrates the relationship between marine life and human survival, from the sustenance provided to native cultures over thousands of years, to the omega-3–rich shellfish that helped to sharpen the evolving human brain. Charming illustrations and a conservation resource list round out this slim and superb reminder of these simple creatures' vital importance to the grand scheme of life on land and sea. (Sept.)
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A science-rich yet lambent investigation into the fate of the Olympia oyster... Jacobsen is an artful storyteller, giving the oyster's story an aching bite. He is also a fine explicator, drawing clearly the pivotal role of the oyster in estuarine health... The author ruminates on some fascinating ideas, from prehistoric clam gardens to the role of shellfish in tool-making to the shoreline-based theory of human origins, which holds that inhabitants of the coast benefited from the easy harvest of brain-enriching fish and shellfish. Lovely science writing, and a smart look into where the work of ecological restoration is headed. (Kirkus)

In 2008, [Jacobsen] signed on as the literary chronicler of a nine-member expedition to the pristine coast of British Columbia... It's not giving away any punch lines to reveal that Jacobsen's expedition found a remote estuary off the coast of Vancouver Island that is literally paved with Olympia oysters, and that the resulting ecological data may provide the key to a resurgence of the species in bays and raw bars along the Northwest coast. But Jacobsen's experience also provided him with food for thought. Just as agriculture led to the spread of civilization in the Old World, he believes, aquaculture may have spread civilization in the New World... He's equally persuasive in urging the preservation and protection of native shellfish habitats. After all, the oyster is his world - and the world, it seems to me, is his oyster. (Natural History)

What too many of us so simply regard as the oyster, Rowan Jacobsen reveals as living gold--as currency of coastal cultures, engineer of ecosystems, the champagne toast of societies through the ages. Through Jacobsen's admiring eyes, we see the mystery and the magic in the humble oyster; we see the omen in a creature quietly disappearing from waters that once gave life to us all. (Will Stolzenburg, author of Where the Wild Things Were)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First ediiton edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rowan Jacobsen is the author of A Geography of Oysters, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, American Terroir, Shadows on the Gulf, and Apples of Uncommon Character. He has written for the New York Times, Harper's, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, The Boston Globe, and others, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and Best Food Writing collections. He has won a couple of James Beard Awards, an IACP award, and some others. His 2010 book, American Terroir, was named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by Library Journal. His Outside Magazine piece Heart of Dark Chocolate received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers for best adventure story of the year, and his Harper's piece The Homeless Herd was named best magazine piece of the year by the Overseas Press Club. He was a 2012 Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, writing about endangered diversity on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China. He lives in Vermont. Learn more at www.rowanjacobsen.com

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. McCullough on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought *The Living Shore* after hearing the author on NPR (West Coast Live?) and enjoyed this short, satisfying book on the natural history of oysters and other shellfish, the threatened status of their habitat, and their role in human history and evolution - wow!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wynne on June 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was such an interesting story, about oysters and their role in the health of marine environments. It also talked about current thinking on the role of the seashore in human history.

The book was well written, but I found the Kindle edition quite annoying. It had bizarre spaces in so many words--it seemed like serious errors on every few pages. For example, the word particular would display as par ti cu lar, or sometimes have a hyphen where it didn't belong. If I had known this in advance, I think I would have gotten the print edition, so I wanted to warn others...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Tolles on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sent this as a gift to my father. He has lived on Puget Sound for 80+ years, and said he enjoyed the book very much.
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By BadDawg on April 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
excellent book,
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By J Warner on February 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read
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