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An Island Out of Time : A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake

Horton, Tom

104 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0393039382 / ISBN 13: 9780393039382
Published by W W Norton & Co Inc, 1996
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Trilby & Co. Books (San Jose, CA, U.S.A.)

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Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

First printing. Flat SIGNED by Tom Horton on the title page. The volume is lightly bumped at the spine ends, The unclipped dust jacket, sleeved in mylar, is fine. Bookseller Inventory # 15062710

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Bibliographic Details

Title: An Island Out of Time : A Memoir of Smith ...

Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed

Edition: First Edition

About this title


Smith Island is a marshy archipelago in mid-Chesapeake Bay, nine miles from the mainland, home to 150 watermen and their families. This book is a portrait of a people who have remained intimately connected to the place in which they live, far past the time when "place" and "nature" any longer have immediate consequence to most of our lives. Tom Horton lived for nearly three years on Smith Island, recording through observation and interviews the traditions of oystering, crab catching, churchgoing, hunting and poaching, and the social rituals of these fiercely independent men and women. His beautifully elegiac story is about community and isolation, harvest and exploitation, and the risks and charms of being different from the surrounding world. Like Ian Frazier's The Great Plains, this is a book that grows from a vast and unique geography. The grassy shallows and the hidden bottoms of Smith Island, and of the Chesapeake, once supported a variety of waterfowl and marine life that astonished the early explorers. The decline of these natural wonders and the attempt to restore the health of Chesapeake Bay is one part of the story; the other is an effort to give voice to a distinctive people whose three centuries of working and being constitute an eloquent statement of humans in nature.


Although the archipelago known as Smith Island sits in Chesapeake Bay, just off Maryland's eastern shore, it is in some ways a place lost in time and space. Lacking a police force, a high school, or a hospital, it still carries the flavor of another era. People earn a tough living from crabbing, which means 18-hour work days for six months of the year, and they still speak a heavily accented language that some scholars believe dates back to Elizabethan times. In 1987, Tom Horton, an environmental writer for the Baltimore Sun, moved with his family to this 300-year-old community. This thoughtful, well-written book is his record of the two years they spent there.

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