Ascension Island is a wilderness of volcanic rock, land crabs, and stray donkeys in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It erupted into existence about 600 years ago and was discovered by the Portugese in 1501. However, it was only when Napoleon was exiled to nearby St. Helena that the island gained strategic importance and was snatched up by the British. It went on to become a crucial "node" in both world wars and the Cold War. The 1960s saw the building of a NASA base which was crucial to the Apollo missions. The thousand or so people who live on this island now do so because they have been brought here by their work for NASA as fishermen, or simply to service the existence of the colony. Ghione's work was to travel there to study Ascension's most famous inhabitants: the extraordinary sea turtles that arrive each year to lay their eggs. Combining history, science, geography, and journalism, this quirky and charming book is a wonderful tale about a very peculiar place - a tiny piece of Britishness absurdly at odds with the reality of its bleakness and isolation. Ghoine has a sharp eye for the curiosities of island life, such as the single grocery shop that sells Christmas goods year round, the ritual of throwing paint at a particular curbstone, and many more. Come and experience the strange world of Ascension Island first-hand!
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Sergio Ghione is a doctor and research scientist at Italy's National Research Foundation at Pisa who has a passion for islands (and turtles).
Martin McLaughlin is a prize-winning translator and Fiat-Serena Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Oxford.
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