The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier (英語) ハードカバー – 2004/5/24
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A history of coastal Maine's lobster communities describes their ongoing defense of local traditions, their resistance to groups that would exploit their resources, their shared property values, and the wisdom they have gleaned from lifetimes spent in support of community interests. 35,000 first printing.
Colin Woodard, freelance writer and journalist, has reported from more than thirty foreign countries and six continents. He is a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chronicle of Higher Education and has published work in dozens of publications, including The Miami Herald, Nature Conservancy, E: The Environmental Magazine, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
'The Lobster Coast' was an absorbing work right from the first page. It begins with the author visiting Monhegan Island for a few days and getting a taste of the island's unique fishing culture. It becomes the springboard for addressing how the current Maine coast all came to be. It involves Mr. Woodard addressing such topics as the early settler attempts; the geological formation of its coast and the Gulf of Maine; the myths surrounding Plymouth Rock pilgrims being the first settlers; the Native American cultures and how they were eventually driven off their land; how Massachusetts land barons continually tried to exploit the immigrants to Maine for their own gain; the development of the fishing trade and other industries such as granite, lumber, canneries, and selling ice; the effects of suburban sprawl; the decimation of the fishing stocks; the creation of Acadia National Park and how Maine became a popular tourist destination. Of course, the primary focus is on the lobster industry. Mr. Woodard writes about the biological characteristics of the lobster, how the industry is managed, and what is being done to maintain it as a vital Maine business. The book includes a handful of small black-and-white maps for clarification.
Growing up in a very rural Aroostook County paper mill town, then moving and living for the last 40 years in southern Maine near the coast has given me a better understanding that there is no one TRUE kind of Mainer. The best that can be said is there is a large overriding mindset but Maine is made up of various unique cultures which frequently clash with one another. Many rural citizens with a long history of living in the state disparage the Portland area including everyone on down to the New Hampshire coast as not "true" Mainers. This is pure BS. It's simply people who cherish their local areas culture and are having difficulty in the rapid changes occurring around them. I can empathize with their anxiety but, as Mr. Woodard states change is unavoidable and the best we can do is try to manage the directions it will go. The author has written a topnotch entertaining history of Maine's fabulous coast.
Colin Woodard, a Maine native, with a deep appreciation for this region on the fringe of the northeast center's of population, writes with engaging detail of the challenges of living on Maine's coast, while showing how the long term residents have a deep since of rootedness of place. A good half of this 300 page work is an overview of Maine's history from the beginning of European colonization to the present day. While relatively short, this overview, with vivid told details, shows how the residents of these shores, from natives, to colonizers to those facing the brunt of closing paper mills and fish processing plants, have faced being overrun by outside influencers. Reading this, you can certainly understand why Maine is so much different and out of the orbit of the rest of the northeast, and see why a spirit of self determination has become part of the character of those who live in this rich, but hard land.
Woodard writes with great detail to show the importance of ecology and the interconnectedness of how people relate to resources and each other. For instance, his accounts of how modern, suburban housing subdivisions and retail centers work counter to productive uses of labor and the traditional ways of life is important. Also, his work shows how scientists who study the ecology of lobsters, the collapse of the cod and haddock fish stocks and how understanding the role of harvesting and nurturing sea life is more than a function of data, but is in every way of ecology and understanding how multiple systems depend on each other.
Repeatedly, the Lobster Coast shows a tension of living. This tension is best described as one that works on how individuals work together, but struggle against hard circumstances, while often working against outside influences that simply want to extract resources in ways that ultimately harm the land and people more than it can replenish.
While a social and cultural history of the edge of the northeastern USA, this work also can show how many regions struggle to make a living in the midst of post industrial, global capitalism. The Lobster Coast was written in the years before the 2008 Financial Crisis, so the elements that stretched so many have only accelerated in Maine since then, and the suburbinazation of the Maine coast has continued in fits and starts, and more mills have shut for good.
As history that connects how many different elements create a culture that still works to maintain an identity, this is a very engaging read and well worth the time to think through.
He has a way of combining present day Maine with historical Maine; Maine seen through his eyes, the eyes of those he interviews, and words written down centuries ago. They all flow together seamlessly, creating a fluid history of this amazing state.
Perhaps it is because generations of my father's family have been born, lived and died in the Pine Tree state.
Maybe it is because I have fished and set lobster traps commercially in New England, and have seen the boom and collapse of the industry:the boom due to plentiful stocks of cod and other groundfish, and the collapse due to over fishing and poor fisheries management.
It might be in part because I know many of the places of which he speaks.
In the end, I think it is all of these, and maybe none of these.
Colin Woodard is simply the best writer of U.S. history I have read.
If you are looking for names and dates, you will find many here. If you are recalling history as written in school textbooks, you are in for a very happy surprise. His history books real like novels, but they are better. Unlike James Michener's historical novels, however, all the information cited in Mr. Woodard's books is true. The people and the events are real. They happened, and many continue to happen to this day.
You will come away from reading this book with a hunger for more information. Maybe, if you haven't visited coastal Maine, you will decide to do so. And if you do visit Maine, or perhaps even live there, you will gain new insights into the forces, both natural and man made, that shaped this great state.