In this spellbinding, beautifully written work of extraordinary range and perception, BBC home editor Mark Easton takes readers on an enchanting adventure to illustrate how understanding islands and island syndrome might help humanity get closer to the truth about itself.
Suggesting that a continental bias has blinded us, Easton chronicles a sweep of 250 million years of island history: from Pangaea (the supercontinent mother of all islands) to the first intrepid islanders pointing their canoes over the horizon, from exploration to occupation, exploitation to liberation, a hopeful journey to paradise and a chastening reminder of our planet's fragility. The book uncovers some astonishing island tales, all combining to provide a fresh 'islander perspective' on our past and our present.
But that is only half the book: aided by the muse he names Pangaea, Easton also interweaves reflections on what he calls 'the psychological islands that form the great archipelago of humankind'. No man is an island, wrote John Donne. This book argues the opposite: that we are all islands, and it is upon the contradictory shoreline where isolation meets connectedness, where 'us' meets 'them', that we find out who we truly are.
Brave, intelligent and haunting, Islands is a deep dive into geography and myth, literature, politics and philosophy that reveals nothing less than a map of the human heart.
Glasgow-born Mark Easton has been the home editor of BBC News since 2004.