• Chesapeake Requiem

  • A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island
  • By: Earl Swift
  • Narrated by: Tom Parks
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (172 ratings)

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Chesapeake Requiem

By: Earl Swift
Narrated by: Tom Parks
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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a 200-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay as it faces extinction from rising sea levels - part natural history of an extraordinary ecosystem, starring the beloved blue crab; part paean to a vanishing way of life; and part meditation on man’s relationship with the environment - from the acclaimed author, who reported this story for more than two years.

Tangier Island, Virginia, is a community unique on the American landscape. Mapped by John Smith in 1608, settled during the American Revolution, the tiny sliver of mud is home to 470 hardy people who live an isolated and challenging existence, with one foot in the 21st century and another in times long passed. They are separated from their countrymen by the nation’s largest estuary, and a 12-mile boat trip across often tempestuous water - the same water that for generations has made Tangier’s fleet of small fishing boats a chief source for the rightly prized Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and has lent the island its claim to fame as the softshell crab capital of the world.

Yet for all of its long history, and despite its tenacity, Tangier is disappearing. The very water that has long sustained it is erasing the island day by day, wave by wave. It has lost two-thirds of its land since 1850, and still its shoreline retreats by 15 feet a year - meaning this storied place will likely succumb first among US towns to the effects of climate change. Experts reckon that, barring heroic intervention by the federal government, islanders could be forced to abandon their home within 25 years. Meanwhile, the graves of their forebears are being sprung open by encroaching tides, and the conservative and deeply religious Tangiermen ponder the end times.    

Chesapeake Requiem is an intimate look at the island’s past, present, and tenuous future, by an acclaimed journalist who spent much of the past two years living among Tangier’s people, crabbing and oystering with its watermen, and observing its long traditions and odd ways. What emerges is the poignant tale of a world that has, quite nearly, gone by - and a leading-edge report on the coming fate of countless coastal communities.

©2018 Earl Swift (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Chesapeake Requiem

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book - Flawed Narration.

With the last name of Parks, one might think the narrator was a local. Clearly, he is not, with repeated mispronunciation of Onancock, Accomack and gunwale.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great reporting, fascinating story, sloppy narrating

This was a truly wonderful and engrossing story. Unfortunately, the narrator didn’t check that he was pronouncing words correctly, which kept bringing me out of the story. If you’re narrating a boat book, learn the boat terms. “Gunwales” is gunn’ls not gun-whales. Jibe and jib are not pronounced the same.

3 people found this helpful

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Erosion Shrinking Island

Earl Swift writes as much or more about the crabbing, political and religious views of the residents of tiny Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, as he does about the erosion of the land. The residents are clannish and seem to be a throwback to one or two centuries ago in their speech, beliefs, and other other areas imposed by the island's isolation.
The narrator makes a good effort to get the pronunciation right, but misses it with Accomack County, and other names a native Virginian like me cringes to hear mangled.
Overall an interesting and enjoyable listen.
#Multigenerational, #Provocative, #TangierIsland
#tagsgiving and #sweepstakes

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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very good book..too bad politics had to be drug in

very good book, the author does an amazing job of capturing his experience on tangier island. reminds me of beautiful swimmers. my only complaint is not with the story or its subject, but with the author. he often comes off pretentious, like hes smarter and therefore better than the people who let him into their community. several times he would explain a tangiermans point of view or beleive, then would explain how this was incorrect. kind of seems one sided, document a person's beliefs, then later counter their belief with no offer of rebuttal. it seems the author knows what's best for tangier island, despite he only stayed there for 14 months. he hints at his liberal bias early in the book, then fully reveals it at the end. it must have drove him nuts to be on an island full of conservatives, full of people with morals and virtue. full of people that stand for something and dont always view change as a good thing. full of people that love their country and love God. he just had to get his jabs in on trump. the fact that he claims to love tangier island, and wishes that it doesnt erode away, he published a book which will surely promulgate the notion that tangier cannot be saved because it is rising water levels, not erosion. to me he stabbed the people of tangier in the back. he should be smart enough to know that these people need rip-rap, it's their only hope. he should know that sea level rises has not been scientifically proven.
despite the authors liberal smugness...it is a very good book.

2 people found this helpful

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Awesome story!

Having visited Tangier Island last summer, this book hit the mark with us. We loved that oyster with the two crabs on it.

A population that loves the Lord and loves President Trump. So do we.

Well written!

1 person found this helpful

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  • JC
  • 10-01-20

I loved it.

I have been intrigued by Tangier for a long time. I feel like I know the people after listening to this book. Excellent book. The narrator was fantastic. I loved listening to him.
I hope something is done for Tangier. I’ve been looking at a house there, but since it’s eroding away, I can’t justify it.

1 person found this helpful

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A look inside

The natives of Tangier are reputed to belong to an insular community, so it was remarkable to read Earl Swift's account of his time spent on the island. His acceptance by the men and women among whom he lived for a year enabled him to describe the lifestyle of the islanders and the obstacles that they are facing as a result of climate change. The book flows easily, and is a pleasure to read.

1 person found this helpful

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Chesapeake Requiem

So interesting! if you are fascinated by the Chesapeake Bay and crabs...listen to this book.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Crabs

If you want to hear about crabs, this is your book. Otherwise,it is just another average historical book.

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Read This!

One of the best books I've listened to in a long time. I visited Tangier Island over the summer and spent an afternoon walking all the ridges. This story really captures the essence of the island and its people. I laughed, I cried, and was reminded of what a beautiful and fascinating place the island is and its history in the Chesapeake Bay.