Islands Beyond the Horizon: The life of twenty of the world’s most remote places
Roger Lovegrove (Oxford University Press, £16.99)
This is a personal account of the author’s information gathering and recounting of his experiences of 20 of the world’s small, remote oceanic islands. The idea was stimulated from when he sat perched on the quiet slopes of Oiseval on St KIlda, far out beyond the Hebrides. From ice-locked Wrangel to storm-bound South Georgia, Pico in the Azores to the San Blas Islands offshore from the Caribbean coast of Panama, naturalist Lovegrove explores the wildlife and character, emphasising their individuality as well as their physical limitations and fragile vulnerability. Read between the lines, and you discover the determined effort of conservationists to preserve these amazing, and irreplaceable, wildlife communities. For starters, the author reminds us that one should not confuse remoteness with isolation, where the latter can be found on an island or in the middle of urban sprawl. Remoteness, on the other hand, involves distance but also often inaccessibility. Like many others, small islands to Lovegrove present an irresistible attraction, the key to appreciating their individuality and understanding their distribution and physical features lying in unlocking the history of their origins. Some islands you will have heard of, perhaps others not. No matter. For no doubt like me, you will find the island hopping a fascinating journey of discovery.