Pick Of The Picture Books: The Living Coast: An Aerial View of Britain's Shoreline, By Christopher Somervill

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The Independent Culture

Far more than just a serendipitous collection made by three curious men in a Cessna 182, The Living Coast: An Aerial View of Britain's Shoreline, by Christopher Somerville, with photographs by Adrian Warren and Dae Sasitorn (Last Refuge, £14.99) is an intimate document of Britain's ins and outs, its ebbs and flows and its precarious ecology, all from "a gull's eye" perspective.

In his breathlessly lyrical text, Somerville puts the mudflats and the sands, the "deep-cut clefts" and "iron-hard cliffs", into the context of Britain's history: through Roman and Danish invasion, medieval and Industrial Revol-ution prosperity, imperial omni-potence and retreat into a more modest role in the world.

Lavish photographs by Sasitorn and Warren give us painterly ripples of dawn light on estuary mud and weird cubist images of containers lined up in ports, alongside the more traditional money shots of the White Cliffs and Lulworth Cove, Dorset.

The lighthouse was built in 1833 to a design by Robert Stevenson. Its first keeper was a descendant of the man who inspired Robinson Crusoe.