Biteback Publishing has acquired Islands: Searching for truth on the shoreline by BBC Home Editor Mark Easton, to be published in October 2022.

No man is an island, wrote John Donne. Easton argues the opposite: that we are all islands, and it is on the contradictory shoreline where isolation meets connectedness, where ‘us’ meets ‘them’, that we find out who we truly are.

In this personal exploration of our fascination with islands and ‘islandness’, Easton chronicles a sweep of 250 million years of history: from Pangaea, the supercontinent mother of all islands, to the first intrepid islanders pointing their canoes over the horizon, to his own journeys of discovery among the hidden corners of our world. Roaming from Arran to Antigua, he illustrates how understanding islands and island syndrome might help humanity get closer to the truth about itself.


Mark Easton joined the BBC in 1986 before being appointed Political Editor at Channel 5 News in 1996 and Home and Social Affairs Editor at Channel 4 News in 1998. He returned to BBC News as Home Editor in 2004, a post he still holds.

Olivia Beattie, Editorial Director at Biteback, acquired UK Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from Andrew Gordon at David Higham Associates.


Easton said: ‘My ambition in this book is to investigate the almost magical qualities of the encircling shoreline, to chronicle the journey of physical islands and explore the psychological islands that form the great archipelago of humankind. If you want to get a better understanding of the human condition in all its impossible complexity, islands are good places to go.’

Beattie said: ‘With memories of lockdown still blisteringly fresh, Mark’s exploration of the boundaries between isolation and connection, between individuality and the wider world, between “us” and “not us”, has a remarkable resonance. Islands is a deep dive into geography, myth, literature, politics and philosophy, but above all it’s an inventive and hugely original insight into how cultures bloom and how geography shapes human nature.’


Islands: Searching for truth on the shoreline will be published on 11 October, accompanied by a major publicity campaign.

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