Friday, August 17, 2007

Island of the Lost

We have a new book that is actually a bit of a two-fer: Island of the Lost: shipwrecked at the edge of the world, by Joan Druett. On the surface, it is an interesting account of a couple of 19th century shipwrecks on Auckland Island (285 miles south of New Zealand). These shipwreck books are incredibly popular here, of course, perhaps because so many of us island folk have been in situations at one time or another when foundering seemed possible, if not likely. On a deeper level, this book is about human nature and individual response to tragic circumstance (heady stuff, indeed). There have been many times when people have judged accidents and disasters and the behavior of the people involved (the Donner party is a classic example), but it's always hard to separate circumstances from personal choices. Druett, however, presents us with a perfect case - two ships wrecked on the same island at the same time (although on different ends of the island, and ignorant of each others' presence). One crew survives, thrives and escapes. The other resorts to infighting and cannibalism. What made the difference? Read and find out.

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