Sable Island

Sable Island

The Strange Origins and Curious History of A Dune Adrift in the Atlantic

Book - 2004
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Baker & Taylor
Presents the story of Sable Island, an island adrift in the North Atlantic, tracing its history and topology from its probable origins in glacial times to its fate at the mercy of the continental shelf and North Atlantic currents.

McMillan Palgrave

The story of a small but deadly sand dune in the middle of the North Atlantic

Sable Island—one hundred miles due east of Nova Scotia, in the midst of the worst weather in the North Atlantic—is a thirty mile-long sand dune, uninhabited except by a couple of government agents who maintain an outpost and by bands of wild horses that have populated the island for more than two hundred years. Yet this small place illuminates grand and global themes, both human and natural.

There is evidence that Sable may have been discovered as early as the fifteenth century, and it has been the subject of several failed colonization efforts by Portugal, France, the Basques, and even a group of prominent Bostonians, including the uncle of John Hancock. For centuries before lifesaving global positioning technology, Sable terrorized legions of mariners crossing from Europe to America—more than five hundred ships have been wrecked on its shores, fully ten disasters for every mile of coastline. Sable is constantly moving, its beaches disappearing and reappearing in storms, its very body in slow motion to the east. Because of this, it is a metaphor for the way the planet governs itself, because to appreciate Sable is to understand the workings of the great ocean currents, the winds and the North Atlantic gale, and the forces of entropy. Impressive in the array of its knowledge, Sable Island is a lyrical ode to one of nature's wonders.

Book News
Bands of wild horses and over 500 wrecked ships call Sable Island home, along with two government workers, the only living human inhabitants. The island is adrift in the North Atlantic, shifting slowly to the southeast, and miles of its shores come and go in a single storm, mirroring the fates of its past settlers. The authors trace the island's history and topology from its probable origins in glacial times to its fates in the mercies of the continental shelf and North Atlantic currents. The island will probably sink into the sea eventually. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Walker & Company, 2004
ISBN: 9780802714329
Characteristics: p. ; cm
Additional Contributors: Hirtle, Sheila


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