A Literary Cocktail Hour —The Last Island
In November 2018, a young American missionary kayaked onto a remote beach in the Indian Ocean and was killed by indigenous islanders wielding bows and arrows. News of that fatal encounter on North Sentinel Island—a small patch of land in the Andaman archipelago—fascinated people around the world. Most were unaware such a place existed in our time: an island whose hunter-gatherer inhabitants still live in near-total isolation.
Twenty years before that ill-fated visit, another traveler—Adam Goodheart, a young American writer—had made his own journey to North Sentinel’s coastline. He returned to the Andaman Islands after the missionary’s death. The Last Island is the tale of those voyages, a poignant work of history as well as travel, a journey in both time and place. It reveals the stories of others drawn to North Sentinel’s mystery over the centuries, from British imperial adventurers to an enigmatic Victorian photographer to modern-day anthropologists. The book chronicles neighboring Andaman tribes’ encounters with the outside world, unfolding a dark saga of race, science, and empire worthy of a Joseph Conrad novel.
Adam Goodheart is a historian, travel writer, essayist, and author of The Last Island: Discovery, Defiance, and the Most Elusive Tribe on Earth. He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he is director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. He is the recipient of a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers. He is also featured in a two-hour National Geographic documentary about North Sentinel Island, “The Mission”,
premiering in theaters and streaming in late 2023. Goodheart’s first book, the New York Times bestseller 1861: The Civil War Awakening, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history and was named Book of the Year by the History Book Club; the audiobook edition won the Audie Award for best history title of the year.
Author and photojournalist Tom Clynes travels the world covering the adventurous sides of science, the environment and education for publications such as National Geographic, Nature, The New York Times and Popular Science, where he is a contributing editor. His work has also appeared in The Atlantic, Audubon, Newsweek, Scientific American, The Sunday Times Magazine (London) and many other publications. Tom is the author of the books Wild Planet and The Boy who Played With Fusion. He lives in Vermont.