I had the good fortune to grow up in the rural mountains of Japan and the arid plateaus of Spain, surrounded by history, tradition, and stories. At a very young age, I knew instinctively that such exposure would inspire me to look deeper into the relationship between traditional cultures and the natural world. What I didn’t realize was how profoundly this work would force me to look within myself.

As a graduate student in journalism I became a regular contributor to The New York Times and Time-Life, Inc., covering such topics as science, the environment, agriculture, Native Americans, immigration, defense, politics—you name it. For sixteen years I worked as a full-time freelance writer, contributing to more than  thirty newspapers and dozens of magazines. I was also an independent producer for National Public Radio. As a journalist and lecturer I’ve traveled extensively around the world and have written about indigenous cultures from the Arctic to Chile, and from the American West to southern Africa and Asia.

My goal has always been to document cultural and environmental change, to give a voice to the voiceless, and to help keep their stories alive. To write my new book I lived in the Galápagos Islands 600 miles west of Ecuador, where I immersed myself with a wide range of characters and probed into complex issues in this now-endangered UNESCO World Heritage site.

Galápagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution (National Geographic Society Books, 2009) examines colliding values between humans and the natural world in one Earth’s last paradises, and offers solutions on how to conserve the islands before it’s too late.

© 2007 Carol Ann Bassett