Chesapeake requiem: “Every island fled away”

To start this blog I want to say I found myself enjoying the structure and tone of Earl Swift’s literal muck-raking work in the Chesapeake: the opening displays Swift’s stylistic choices and story telling structure. Opening on a story of traveling after a storm and finding a human skull and a submerged grave, hooking the audience immediately and establishing a serious and life defying tone. Then in chapter 1 the opening listing the abandoned islands all around the Chesapeake like James Island, Sharps Island, and Holland Island. The story of the lives being uprooted and the world being turned upside down is so effective at installing the sense of agency that will prosiest throughout the rest of the work. The immediate and massive threat of global warming in the region (and the world) comes through immediately so when Tangier is brought up with the claim that it will be gone in 50 years or so it sets in. The connection between these islands that were abandoned before the turn of the century and a community that is loved by the people in the bay and Northern Virginia. I love the interview with Leon and the last lines of that chapter ring out and cement the tone of the work “save the birds, Kill the people.” I think it’s very effective that Swift then turns to the livelihoods of the people who live and work on the bay; the folks who get the crabs and the shoremen. The line “how many empty houses can there be?” was so devastating. The story that begins here is so amazing it needs to be read. This documentary journalistic style is so powerful and enriches the story of the bay and adds a devastating and human touch to this story that needs to be addressed quickly before it’s too late.

This work is really incredibly powerful and is very effective, this needs to be read.

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