Download Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island Audiobook

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island Audiobook, by Earl Swift Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Earl Swift Narrator: Tom Parks Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2018 ISBN: 9780062858245
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A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a two-hundred-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 twelve-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 fifteen feet a year—meaning this storied place will likely succumb first among U.S. 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 twenty-five 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A moving account of a vanishing place, sure to satisfy anyone concerned with climate change, environmental issues, and anthropology.”

    Library Journal

  • “A graceful melding of history, nature writing, and perceptive cultural commentary…A well-rendered narrative about how one specific island’s fate stands as a warning for all coastal regions.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This is a powerful book. We need a replacement for the tired ‘canaries in a coal mine,’ and sadly ‘fishermen on Tangier Island’ will probably do. Fascinating people, clinging loyally to a fascinating and lovely place, even as the waters rise—Earl Swift’s Chesapeake Requiem is a tale of our time, movingly told. Perhaps it will inspire some of us living safe on higher ground to more action on behalf of those at risk.”

    Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

  • “Wonderful, poetic, stirring writing. This lovely book is an elegy to a disappearing way of life and a rumination on the coming global upheaval from climate-change-driven sealevel rise. The story of Tangier Island, so beautifully described by Earl Swift, will soon be repeated in a place near you.”

    Callum Roberts, marine conservation biologist and author of The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

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About the Author

Journalist Earl Swift has written five books, including The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways (2011). Since 2012 he has been a residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia.

About the Narrator

Tom Parks is an AudioFile Earphones Award-winning narrator who has also been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been involved in recording audiobooks and voice-overs for over thirty years and through an eclectic range of projects. In addition to performing and directing, he is also an active musician, drumming in musical theater productions in the Midwest, and is in demand as a conference speaker.