Even before the Pilgrims landed in 1620, Cape Cod and its islands promised paradise to visitors, both native and European. In Paul Schneider's sure hands, the story of this waterland created by glaciers and refined by storms and tides -- and of its varied inhabitants -- becomes an irresistible biography of a place.Cape Cod's Great Beach, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket are romantic stops on Schneider's roughly chronological human and natural history. His book is a lucid and compelling collage of seaside ecology, Indians and colonists, religion and revolution, shipwrecks and hurricanes, whalers and vengeful sperm whales, glorious clipper ships and today's beautiful but threatened beaches. Schneider's superb eye for story and detail illuminates both history and landscape. A wonderful introduction, it will also appeal to the millions of people who already have warm associations with these magical places.