No man is an island, wrote John Donne. BBC home editor Mark Easton 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. 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.
But that is only half of this mesmerising 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’. Taking readers on an enchanting adventure, he illustrates how understanding islands and island syndrome might help humanity get closer to the truth about itself. Brave, intelligent and haunting, Islands is a deep dive into geography, myth, literature, politics and philosophy that reveals nothing less than a map of the human heart.