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Archive for July, 2015

Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas

Posted by >>>>> on July 23, 2015


Lorna Garano, lornagarano@gmail.com, 510-280-5397

Peter Handel, peterlhandel@gmail.com, 510-280-5327


“Especially for those of us who live inland, this book comes as a great gift—an overwhelming reminder of the ocean planet on which we live, with its great wonders and the risks it faces.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Finding Hope in Dire TimCover_SmallerPrintSizees

In Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas Liz Cunningham shows us how people around the world are practicing “hope in action” and why it’s time for all of us to join them.

After Liz Cunningham was nearly swallowed by a rogue wave in a kayaking accident in which she was temporarily paralyzed, she was left with a sense of despair and alienation from the waters that she had always turned for solace and healing. As she recovered physically, Cunningham vowed that she would reconnect with the ocean and recover hope—hope for herself and for the planet’s ailing waters. In OCEAN COUNTRY: ONE WOMAN’S VOYAGE FROM PERIL TO HOPE IN HER QUEST TO SAVE THE SEAS (Foreword by Carl Safina, North Atlantic Books, September 2015, Paperback) Cunningham shares her two-year global journey to discover how communities and individuals are fighting to save the marine world that every living being depends on and how they are creating hope through action in dire times.

From a former “dynamite fisherman” in Indonesia who walked away from heftier profits to save the ocean ecosystem his community relies on for subsistence to a culinary school in Paris that teaches sustainable cooking practices, people are rescuing our oceans and coming together to fight the destruction that can seem inevitable. And they are effecting change—though we rarely hear about. Recently, Bluefin tuna—a species all but declared extinct—has seen in an uptick in their stocks. This turn-around is a result of massive, coordinate effort across industries and communities. It is one of the remarkable stories of people practicing what Cunningham calls “hope in action.” From the San Francisco Bay Area to the Turks and Caicos Islands to Sulawesi, Indonesia to Papua, New Guinea to French islands in the Mediterranean, Cunningham shows us how people throughout the world are beginning to see that we can have hope, that we must act, and—most importantly—that the two are interdependent.

OCEAN COUNTRY is an adventure story, a call to action, and a poetic meditation on the state of the seas—but most of all—it is a story of finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face humankind.

Twenty-one percent of royalties will be given to the New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF), which aims to protect and promote ocean biodiversity through funding of small-scale, time-sensitive, community-based programs. This amount was chosen to highlight the percentage of oxygen in each breath we take and that the fact that over one half of that oxygen comes from marine plants and algae in the ocean.


LIZ CUNNINGHAM is the author of Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age (Praeger), which features frank and probing oral-history interviews with top television journalists such as Tom Brokaw, Larry King, and Robin MacNeil. Liz Cunningham PhotoShe has written for Earth Island Journal, East Bay Express, the Marin Poetry Center Anthology, The Outward Bound International Journal, Times of the Islands, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She has collaborated with institutions such as the Academy for Educational Development, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. She also serves on the board of Outward Bound Peacebuilding and holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Visit her at: lizcunningham.net.


Liz Cunningham | Foreword by Carl Safina | September 2015 | 315 pages | ISBN: 978-1583949603

Paperback $16.95 | Kindle $16.95 | More info & sample slideshow photos: lizcunningham.net Facebook.com/Liz.CunninghamAuthor | @lizcunninghamwr


“…With genuine emotion and great pragmatism, Cunningham makes passionate pleas for the continued health of the planet.”

Publishers Weekly

“(Cunningham) ably conveys her enthusiasm to readers. A moving testament to the human spirit.”



“…Cunningham’s earnest narration of travels to remote seas around the world is a compelling read. Citing examples of sustainable fisheries and marine-protected areas around the word, the book ends on the hopeful note that we may have stopped hitting the snooze button when it comes to taking action against climate change.”



Ocean Country is a heroine’s journey of near-death and discovery, of hopelessness and rebirth. Cunningham’s odyssey reveals how immersion into the problems that overwhelm us is a blessing of self-discovery. Where there is carelessness, we find our tenderness; where there is human suffering, we find our sense of compassion. Where there is damage and degradation, we find faith in ourselves and know that human beings can both resist and change all human ignorance.”

Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest and director of Project Drawdown


“Especially for those of us who live inland, this book comes as a great gift—an overwhelming reminder of the ocean planet on which we live, with its great wonders and the risks it faces.”

Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“As the ticking time bomb of our ocean crisis gets ever closer to detonating, Liz Cunningham brings us face to face with the hard facts. Her description of the transformation of a reef devastated by coral bleaching in just the space of a week, made me want to cry. And yet, even while aching with sorrow for the plight of our oceans, she pushes on through her despondency to find causes for hope. Common sense is breaking out around the world, as people come together to collaborate and build trust, to shift from short-term greed to long-term conservation. A beautifully-written memoir that shows us the ocean through Cunningham’s eyes, with grief for what is lost, awe for what remains, and glimpses of future redemption.”

Roz Savage, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, author of Rowing the Atlantic and Stop Drifting, Start Rowing


“I am full of awe and gratitude to Liz Cunningham for sharing her personal story interwoven with the joy and tragedy of the oceans, an account that is both intimate and universal.  Ocean Country inspires me to take action to preserve our underwater wilderness. I hope it will have the same effect on many other readers who will enjoy this riveting narrative.  A must read for those who want to preserve the beauty and diversity of our world both on sea and on land.”

—Arlene Blum, author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life


“Liz Cunningham, in the rich tapestry of her book, documents better that any scientific treatise could, what we stand to lose if we continue to let the oceans go.”

Daniel Pauly, author of Five Easy Pieces: The Impact of Fisheries on Marine Ecosystem


“Thrilling adventure tale, searing exposé, and moving memoir rolled into one, Ocean Country charts Liz Cunningham’s quest for healing after a near-death encounter with a rogue wave. The story of her odyssey sparkles with wit, wisdom, and excitement. Cunningham doesn’t flinch from devastation and despair. Instead she finds meaning and inspiration in local but sometimes tectonic shifts: fishermen cooperating to reduce catches, citizens guarding ocean refuges, French chefs serving only sustainably-caught fish. Her heartrending—and heart lifting—tales eloquently capture flashes of insight when the dots connect and new options open up. Her book also did something rare and precious: it burnished my hope for the future of our oceans.”

Karen Garrison, former codirector of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ocean Program, recipient of the “Heroes of the Sea” Peter Benchley Award

“Cunningham has searched and found a powerful response to one of the greatest questions of our time from the deepest part of herself and expressed it with eloquence and wit and discernment, taking the reader along with her for a marvelous ride into a greater state of awareness.”

Susan Murphy, author of Minding the Earth, Mending the World

“Wave after wave of gripping narrative—mysterious, funny, prophetic and profound—deftly delivers knowledge crucial to our times You can give it as a gift to friends and family, you can assign it at any classroom level in any field. You can let it teach you how to take yourself seriously enough to make a difference.”

Catherine Keller, author of Cloud of the Impossible and The Face of the Deep

“A stunning account of our endangered oceans—of vanishing coral reefs, collapsing fisheries, mindless exploitation and species loss. But that is only the beginning. Time and again, Cunningham discovers threads of hope in people committed to reversing these tragedies. Taken together, by the end, they unlock a hitherto unimagined and hopeful revelation. You can feel it in the author’s heart. You will feel it in your own.”

Richard J. Borden, author of Ecology and Experience

“The ocean is medicine. That’s what Liz Cunningham’s book shows us. It describes the winding, unpredictable neurological cascades that happen when we connect deeply with our waterways. We experience awe, wonder, purpose, insight, calm, excitement, solitude, romance, empathy, creativity. We become advocates, warriors, custodians, fixers, champions—we become unstoppable. In Ocean Country we meet people where they are as they heal and are reminded how much we all need such healing now.”

Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind

Ocean Country is a book about the art of the possible. How it is possible to protect the planet’s glorious richness of sea-lives and the life of fisherfolk? How can we harvest the sea without emptying it? How is it possible to bear the oceanic consequences of run-away carbon catastrophe? How is it possible to write a book that both celebrates and informs, calling us to respond with hearts and minds to the crises of the life-sustaining seas? In her book of underwater adventures, Liz Cunningham shows us how.”

—Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Great Tide Rising and co-editor of Moral Ground


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