By J. Edward Chamberlin
Bluebridge, $19.95, 208 pages
Island: How Islands Transform the World by J. Edward Chamberlin, Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, is a fascinating exploration and addition to the annals of maritime history. Islands have had a recognized impact on the world. Some nations inhabit islands or have been interested in them. There are also metaphors alluding to islands being the organizing principle of groups of people. Certain ideas and movement begin on islands, with the planet Earth being its own quiet island (so far).
“There are islands that limit us, and islands that liberate us; islands where love flourishes, and islands where hatred takes root; islands that hold us together, and islands that keep us apart.”
The book churns with all sorts of information. There are stories of historical players who sailed the seas and found exotic islands. One might even identify one’s own desire to go sail the seas. There is also geologic information, with Darwin playing a role in this story, as he was a geologist originally. In addition to a chapter on The Origin of the Islands, there is also a chapter on The Origin of the Species. Islands of many sorts, we find out, have performed a key role in separating populations of organisms so they can evolve into different species. Also included is the human settler/explorer story, as well as fascinating islands we should think about. Island will appeal to the national geographer, ocean explorer and traveler.
Reviewed by Ryder Miller