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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a 200-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay as it faces extinction from rising sea levels - part natural history of an extraordinary ecosystem, starring the beloved blue crab; part paean to a vanishing way of life; and part meditation on man’s relationship with the environment - from the acclaimed author, who reported this story for more than two years.

Tangier Island, Virginia, is a community unique on the American landscape. Mapped by John Smith in 1608, settled during the American Revolution, the tiny sliver of mud is home to 470 hardy people who live an isolated and challenging existence, with one foot in the 21st century and another in times long passed. They are separated from their countrymen by the nation’s largest estuary, and a 12-mile boat trip across often tempestuous water - the same water that for generations has made Tangier’s fleet of small fishing boats a chief source for the rightly prized Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and has lent the island its claim to fame as the softshell crab capital of the world.

Yet for all of its long history, and despite its tenacity, Tangier is disappearing. The very water that has long sustained it is erasing the island day by day, wave by wave. It has lost two-thirds of its land since 1850, and still its shoreline retreats by 15 feet a year - meaning this storied place will likely succumb first among US towns to the effects of climate change. Experts reckon that, barring heroic intervention by the federal government, islanders could be forced to abandon their home within 25 years. Meanwhile, the graves of their forebears are being sprung open by encroaching tides, and the conservative and deeply religious Tangiermen ponder the end times.    

Chesapeake Requiem is an intimate look at the island’s past, present, and tenuous future, by an acclaimed journalist who spent much of the past two years living among Tangier’s people, crabbing and oystering with its watermen, and observing its long traditions and odd ways. What emerges is the poignant tale of a world that has, quite nearly, gone by - and a leading-edge report on the coming fate of countless coastal communities.

©2018 Earl Swift (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

very good book..too bad politics had to be drug in

very good book, the author does an amazing job of capturing his experience on tangier island. reminds me of beautiful swimmers. my only complaint is not with the story or its subject, but with the author. he often comes off pretentious, like hes smarter and therefore better than the people who let him into their community. several times he would explain a tangiermans point of view or beleive, then would explain how this was incorrect. kind of seems one sided, document a person's beliefs, then later counter their belief with no offer of rebuttal. it seems the author knows what's best for tangier island, despite he only stayed there for 14 months. he hints at his liberal bias early in the book, then fully reveals it at the end. it must have drove him nuts to be on an island full of conservatives, full of people with morals and virtue. full of people that stand for something and dont always view change as a good thing. full of people that love their country and love God. he just had to get his jabs in on trump. the fact that he claims to love tangier island, and wishes that it doesnt erode away, he published a book which will surely promulgate the notion that tangier cannot be saved because it is rising water levels, not erosion. to me he stabbed the people of tangier in the back. he should be smart enough to know that these people need rip-rap, it's their only hope. he should know that sea level rises has not been scientifically proven.
despite the authors liberal smugness...it is a very good book.

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  • BCM
  • USA
  • 09-03-18

A well-told story of a unique culture

I’m less interested in the politics around climate change versus erosion than I am in learning about the unique culture and lifestyle of this island and its people. The author paints some very vivid pictures of life on the water and the work of the watermen. Of course now I want to get on a boat and go visit. Maybe some day.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Crabs

If you want to hear about crabs, this is your book. Otherwise,it is just another average historical book.