Recent Press Reviews for SKIPJACK

Selected Praise from the Media


“White spent a year chronicling the lives and community of the [Chesapeake] oystermen. … Anyone who is interested in the health and history of the Bay should [read] this amazing author.”–The Annapolis Capital

 “In Skipjack, Christopher White spends a pivotal year with three memorable captains to paint a vivid picture of life on a skipjack, a wooden commercial sailboat as they dredge for oysters…. This last vestige of American sailing culture is rapidly dying. The captains must set aside their rivalries to fight for their very livelihood.”  –Eastern Shore Attractions

  “A hands-on survey of the dangerous skipjack shellfishery, [which] White ably handles as a skilled naturalist. The old-time watermen fill White’s ear with stories of the past that give evidence to their enigmatic reputation as part outlaw, part conservationist. An illuminating, somewhat mournful story of a dying art form.” Kirkus Reviews

 “Naturally, what’s at stake is not just an important sea creature but a way of human life; White mines…testimony on every aspect of community life, from family recipes to skipjack races to oyster wars, in a moving account. Examining the circumstances and difficult decisions of [the] men…. White provides on-the-ground insight into the possibilities and problems of simultaneously sustaining a community and an ecosystem.” –Online Publishers Weekly

“[An] evocative portrait of the nation’s most beautiful and poignant vocational anachronism. It’s an action-packed tale, complete with waterborne grudge matches, on-deck shootouts, fierce winter storms and suspenseful escapes…[all] served up for us on the half-shell.”–The Washington Post

“Exciting, frustrating and poignant as a few aging men and boats struggle to keep a remarkable way of life alive just a little longer.” —Chesapeake Bay Magazine

“As powerful as The Perfect Storm . . . [a] vividly written book with superb, vernacular dialogue.” —The Working Waterfront

“Move over William Warner, author of the ultimate Chesapeake Bay book, Beautiful Swimmers, the ode to blue crabs.  Make room for a shared reign with Christopher White and his new book Skipjack, an elegiac hymn to the beautiful sailboats, the last sailing watermen who skipper them and the vanishing oyster harvest…. Don’t miss this book, readers.  It’s a wonderful account of a miracle right under our noses.  Run, do not walk, to buy a copy.” The Star Democrat

Skipjack…encompasses just about everything a reader would want to know about life on and in the Bay. Author Christopher White burrows so deeply into Bay history, culture and scientific miscellanea that there isn’t much remaining for other Bay lovers to write about…. The reader gets it all: the violent oyster wars; the decline of oysters over the years because of disease and overfishing; and the many conflicting (and greedy) interests…. Skipjack is a book to be enjoyed for its details, authenticity and writing style. It’s local lore at its best, a worthy addition to any library. –Bay Weekly

 “The author spent a year with the captains of three skipjacks, as they balanced politics and tradition, environmental and economic issues in their struggle to harvest oysters from their wooden sailboats.” –WoodenBoat Magazine

 “A stunning portrait…. [White’s] keen eye and lively prose together draw a clear image of a place where work, nature and a deep connection to regional history are interwoven. Join the author as he rides along with the last vestiges of a great American tradition.” –National Fisherman

 “Terrific…. Most centers around Tilghman Island, where the majority of the world’s few remaining skipjacks are [found]…. It reads well and easy and offers a sophisticated analysis of the skills involved in sailing these great boats….” –Surfbirds

 “Those who sail or make their living on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries know that the water is no stranger to sudden and freakish weather conditions. Such was the case in February 1939, when a squall swept across the Bay and up the Choptank River, catching the oyster-dredge fleet unaware. And in a matter of minutes, the quickly moving storm left nine watermen dead while sending several skipjacks and bugeyes to the bottom. The forgotten disaster was resurrected in Christopher White’s recently published book, Skipjack. By the time the wind slammed into Howell Point, White wrote, it had reached hurricane force. And when it did come, White described the wind as looking ‘like black smoke over the water…. Then it rolled right over the fleet.’” –The Baltimore Sun