The fate of many coffee-table books is to be flipped through and forgotten. But Virginia Christian Beach’s recent release, Rice & Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry, will surely escape that. Even this writer, asked to advise on an early copy of the manuscript, was eventually astonished by the finished work. Leafing through its pages is like taking a turn down a local waterway, with both historic and modern images (maps, paintings, photos) unrolling one after another.
Beach gracefully handles complex topics—always in larger contexts—as she traces the evolution of yesterday’s rice plantations to today’s protected wetlands, weaving in subjects like slavery, hunt clubs, and state and national politics. She draws the conclusion that it’s the love of the land—by those who own it and those who inhabit it—that unites everyone in working to save it, for wildlife’s sake, and our own. All proceeds from book sales support migratory bird habitat conservation and restoration.