It?s time for a break in blogging about heavy but important issues facing our islands.
Today, I am blogging about a book that should be on your summer reading list.
It hasn?t felt like summer on Hatteras and Ocracoke this week with the rain, clouds, strong and gusty northeast winds, and heavy seas. But Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally starts the summer season on the islands, is upon us.
The weather outlook for the weekend is good, and here?s my recommendation for a good read on the beach, on the deck, or in the boat.
Ray McAllister, a veteran journalist from Richmond, Va., has written one of the year?s most interesting new books for all of us who love Hatteras Island. ?Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks? is brand new, just published this spring by John F. Blair, Publisher, of Winston-Salem, N.C.
This book is a look at the island?s history, the contemporary life and issues here, and a brief glimpse of what the future might be.
That?s a lot to cover in one book, but McAllister has pulled it off, managing to weave all the pieces together in a style that is very readable.
I was interviewed by McAllister last summer for the book. I had never met him before nor had I read his previous books on Topsail Island or Wrightsville Beach. During the interview, I was somewhat perplexed by what he was intending this book to be ? was it a guide book, a history, a story of life on the island today?
It turns out that the book is all three.
It?s a guide book of sorts. It doesn?t list every attraction or shop on the island, but reading it will definitely enrich your visit to Hatteras. There are chapters on the island?s seven villages ? with some interesting history and descriptions of what the villages are like today.
It?s a history book of sorts. McAllister, apparently an indefatigable researcher, has pulled together previously published information from such sources as books and newspaper and magazine articles into a very good brief history of the island. His chapters cover such topics as the early history of the island, pirates, wars off the shores, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, hurricanes, the U.S. Life-Saving Service and its stations, the establishment of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the evolution of transportation on the island from driving the sand roads to today?s paved Highway 12. Especially enjoyable is his chapter on David Stick, the foremost historian on the Outer Banks, whom McAllister interviewed in Stick?s Kitty Hawk home.
And McAllister ends with a chapter on ?Hatteras Tomorrow,? a look at the changes on the island, today?s issues, and what islanders think about the future.
In his preface, the author says the book ??is neither a travel guide nor a history nor a paean to a disappearing lifestyle, though it contains elements of each. It is certainly not the definitive book on Hatteras Island. That book has never been written and never will be. Indeed, anyone who trifles with the history of Hatteras runs the risk of getting it so intertwined with legend, hearsay, and errors of fact as to be unrecognizable?.?
Instead McAllister says the book is ?a conversation with an island.?
And he invites readers to ?Pull up a chair. Have a listen.?
I think you will like what you hear ? or is it what you read?
A more complete review of: ?Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks? is on the Island Features Page. Included is a chapter reprinted from the book. It?s entitled, ?This Hatteras Life.?
If you are on the island, you can meet Ray McAllister at book signings on Friday, May 22.
He will be at Buxton Village Books from 10 a.m. until noon and at Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site in Rodanthe from 1 until 3 p.m.