Most people know Nantucket only as a summer haven for America’s monetary elite. Few realize that it is also home to one of America’s largest bay scalloping fleets, the last remnant of a centuries-old fishing culture. When tourist season ends, scallop season begins.

In Scallop Season: A Nantucket Chronicle, writer Jim Patrick and photographer Rob Benchley, both longtime island residents, document a critical season as the Nantucket Bay Scalloping fleet attempts to recover from a disastrous season, as news that most other fisheries up and down the East Coast have lost all of their scallops, many permanently, the culmination of a long, losing battle to pollution. A 1980-81 Nantucket catch of 117,000 bushels had shrunk to a low of 6,800 bushels in 1998-1999. What would the following year bring?

This elegant, documentary-style coffee table book is filled with 178 rich duotone black and white prints and 348 pages of informative, humorous, and poignant text, drawing heavily upon interviews with scallopers and other members of the scallop community. It also stands as the only existing chronicle of the bay scalloping industry, or even the scalloping industry in general, since the 1910 Belding report to the State of Massachusetts.

Perhaps its importance is best summed up by Nantucket resident and National Book Award winner (In The Heart of the Sea), Nathaniel Philbrick:

“Scallop Season is a marvelous book. Jim Patrick’s entertaining, insightful commentary and Rob Benchley’s often stunning photographs make this an instant Nantucket classic.”

Jim Patrick and Rob Benchley take the reader on a moving and intimate journey, following the Nantucket bay scalloping fleet through a season crucial to its survival. More than simply a pictorial record or a textual chronicle – Benchley’s lush duotone black and white photographs are closer to art than journalism, and the story, fueled by humorous and poignant interviews, is richly steeped in history and observation of the human condition.

 Although the book follows the small world of Nantucket Island and its bay scalloping fleet, many of the larger truths voiced by these unique, charming, and wise men and women will resonate with anyone who cares about people and the world they live in.