4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Book That is a Pleasure to Own,
This review is from: The Last Hunters: The Crab Fishermen of Cromer (Hardcover)A few months ago a friend, recently returned from a holiday in Singapore, told of his surprise at seeing `Cromer Crab' on the menu at his hotel. Ignoring the authenticity of that particular crustacean, it did suggest that the product has a global reputation. And one richly deserved according to the likes of Rick Stein. But who actually catches these little creatures?
This delicacy - the `real' one, that is, not the product widely available as `Cromer Crab - caught in the North Atlantic, dressed in Cromer' - is provided by just 13 boats, each taken out almost every night, weather and sea conditions permitting, during the season by a solitary fisherman. These tiny open boats are launched (and retrieved) across a broad sandy beach by trailers drawn by a collection of rusty tractors aged enough to gladden the heart of any classic farm equipment enthusiast.
These fishermen, up to the eighth generation of families who have depended on the sea for their livelihoods, are by their nature self-reliant and self-sufficient members of a close-knit community; a community that has its roots back into Georgian times. The members of these families are not inclined to express their `personal and sometimes intimate details of individual lives' - but it is exactly this that Candy Whittome has set out in words and David Morris illustrates in his evocative photographs.
`The Last Hunters' can only be described as a tour de force. The author has achieved the seemingly impossible; recording the life, times, feelings and emotions of these men, women, their families and colleagues - but in their own words, not through the filter of any personal preconceptions, illusions, or sentimentality. Indeed, her most honest desire to address this fascinating subject and the people involved with humour, love and respect is evident throughout.
In order to achieve this, Candy has acted strictly as a facilitator and avoided using any obvious influence - other than that essential to the overall structure and flow of the words - and `[her] goal...has been to preserve the voice of the speaker'. This requires the suspension of the ego; the effective facilitator (like the effective manager) `is best when people barely know that he exists; a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves"' (to quote Lao Tsu!). And achieve it she most certainly has.
The result is first and foremost a thoroughly enjoyable and compulsive read, but also it will, in due course, become not only a defining work on the history of Cromer and its traditions, but also a classic example of the genre.