The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America

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$18.95  $17.62
Counterpoint LLC
Publish Date
6.1 X 8.9 X 1.4 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author
Summer Brennan was born to parents living in a houseboat on the San Francisco Bay. She has written for magazines and newspapers all over the country and works regularly with the United Nations Press Office in New York covering issues related to decolonization, disarmament, human rights and the environment. As an undergraduate at Bennington she studied with Mary Oliver. Later she took her masters from NYU in journalism and the Middle East. The Oyster War is her first book. Learn more at
Every story is freighted with backstory, with multiple and intersecting histories. The great value of Brennan's book, even if it gets, as she writes, only as close to the truth as I could reasonably be expected to come, is her deeply probing effort to understand and craft as full and complex an account as possible.--Los Angeles Review of Books

in Brennan's hands, it's also a pleasure to vicariously relive the oyster war. Brennan's narrative skills are marked by a relaxed pace, diligent reporting and a scrupulous but fun dive into backstory with ample historical and scientific pigmentation....Brennan is a natural storyteller who makes a tough tale -- that many locals and visitors winced through and tiptoed around -- into a narrative celebration of the striking landscape of the Point Reyes Peninsula, and the spirit behind the oyster war itself.--San Francisco Chronicle

In The Oyster War, Brennan writes with clarity and grace about an environmental conflict centered on an oyster farm in one of the most beautiful preserves in America, the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, as the forces of history, culture, and politics converge to decide the farm's fate. Her saga raises the question: How far can one go to return a land to 'wilderness, ' when throughout its history it supported all manner of human endeavor? It's a compelling and evocative read for anyone who, like me, shares Brennan's belief that this territory is, in fact, 'a little bit magic.'--Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City and Dead Wake

Brennan is a lyrical and lovely writer. --Reason Magazine

An absorbing account of the clash between environmentalists and oyster farmers in the coastal towns north of San Francisco. . . [Brennan] confronts the ambiguities of the conflicting arguments and motives of the key players . . . Well-written and superbly reported.--Kirkus Starred Review

Brennan ably documents and contextualizes decades of history--Publishers Weekly

In a lyrical narrative Brennan explores a legal case with potential implications for the future of wilderness legislation and administration for decades to come, presenting a complex matter with thorough and deliberate care. --Publishers Weekly Spring 2015 Announcements

This book invites the reader to consider the oyster in an entirely new way. More than a delicacy best enjoyed with Champagne, the prized bivalve is metaphor for the intersection of environment and commerce. The Oyster War is a must read for anyone who cares about the poetry and politics of the plate. It's a local story that asks questions with national implications: when commerce and the environment meet, what does it mean to protect something wild?--Anne Zimmerman, author of An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher

Like the northern California fog she perfectly evokes, Brennan weaves her way around the tricky terrain of what wilderness means today. The Oyster War is a smart, page-turning account of what happens when a cultural landscape is imagined as something potentially pristine. Her superb research, local's vibe, balanced view, and ability to summon the magic that is Point Reyes, make The Oyster War vital reading for everyone interested in the future of U.S. environmentalism. --Amanda Adams Hinde, author of A Mermaid's Tale and Ladies of the Field

In these times of crucial need to protect both wild places and working landscapes supporting real people, difficult decisions must be made about who gets to stay and who must go. But we quickly find ourselves in a hall of mirrors. This is a devoutly honest book whose author recognizes that sometimes the closest we can get to truth is a matter of opinion. Her self-questioning integrity is a compass that can help us all steer a wiser course when we find ourselves in a tangle and the right direction is not easy to discern. --Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel