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“Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse,” Illustrated Talk by Local Author Eric Dolin

April 26, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

In a work rich in maritime lore and brimming with original historical detail, Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling author of Leviathan, presents the most comprehensive history of American lighthouses ever written, telling the story of America through the prism of its beloved coastal sentinels.


Set against the backdrop of an expanding nation, Brilliant Beacons traces the evolution of America’s lighthouse system, highlighting the political, military, and technological battles fought to illuminate the nation’s hardscrabble coastlines. In rollicking detail, Dolin treats readers to a memorable cast of characters including the penny-pinching Treasury official Stephen Pleasonton, who hamstrung the country’s efforts to adopt the revolutionary “Fresnel Lens,” and presents tales both humorous and harrowing of soldiers, saboteurs, ruthless egg collectors, and most importantly, the light-keepers themselves. Richly supplemented with over 160 photographs and illustrations throughout, Brilliant Beacons is the most original history of American lighthouses in many decades.


Eric Dolin became interested in the natural world, especially the ocean, at an early age, growing up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut. “I spent many days wandering the beaches on the edge of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, collecting seashells and exploring tide pools. When I left for college, I wanted to become a marine biologist or, more specifically, a malacologist (seashell scientist).”


He earned a double-major in Biology and Environmental Studies, then a masters degree in Environmental Management from Yale, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy and Planning from MIT, where his dissertation focused on the role of the courts in the cleanup of Boston Harbor. He has been a fisheries policy analyst at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an environmental consultant stateside and in London, an American Association for the Advancement of Science writing fellow at Business Week, a curatorial assistant in the Mollusk Department at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, and an intern at the National Wildlife Federation, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the U.S. Senate.


Dolin has written more than 60 articles for magazines, newspapers, and professional journals. He is the bestselling author of multiple award-winning books, including Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America (W. W. Norton, 2007), Fur, Fortune, and Empire: the Epic History of the Fur Trade in America (W. W. Norton, 2010), and most recently, When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail (Liveright, September 2012). His next book, Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse, will be published on April 18, 2016. He lives with his family in Marblehead.


For more information on Eric Dolin and his books, please visit his website.


April 26, 2016
7:00 pm
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Meeting Room
235 Pleasant Street
Marblehead, 01945
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