Swirling Currents, Now Available!

Listen to Mindy Todd and Sandy MacFarlane discuss her new book, "Swirling Currents", on Cape & Islands NPR's The Point

"Swirling Currents: Controversy, Compromise, and Dynamic Coastal Change" Purchase Here

Praise for "Swirling Currents" Purchase Here

“She’s lived her life beside the ocean and on it. In the early 1980s she drove the town’s Clambulance (a reclaimed ambulance) about the Cape, raised tiny quahogs in washtubs from spat in a laboratory next to the Orleans Inn and deposited and monitored shellfish all over town.”

“Sandy MacFarlane is all done rowing forward and looking backward, as she’s now caught by swirling currents.”
read the full article here on Wicked Local / Brewster »
Rich Eldred, Posted Dec 7, 2018, Wicked Local / Brewster, Massachusetts

“In this ambitious, but very readable book, Sandy Macfarlane documents the challenges of coastal resource management. Through a series of case studies, she tackles many of today’s critical topics including marine mammal protection, overfishing, climate change, aquaculture, and nutrient over enrichment.” read the full review here at the Gulf of Maine Institute »
Anne Giblin, senior scientist at the Ecosystems Center Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Cynthia O’Brien, owner, Market Street Bookshop, Mashpee, MA

"Everyone should read this book. It is accessible to all readers yet technically sound."
Kathy Colvin, Titcomb’s Bookshop, Sandwich, MA

"Very thought provoking and a master class in marine biology and the environment."
Wayne Miller, author of Fore River Shipyard and Quincy, Massachusetts: A Shipbuilding Tradition

"It was an enjoyable ramble through history and I learned a lot about the Cape history that I had never known before. It was clearly a labor of love and I am glad the information was captured and presented in such an accessible format."
Robert Rheault, Executive Director, East Coast Shellfish Growers Association

"You had me in your grip by Fort Hill! Finished, enjoyed and learned some things from this very fine piece of work!"
Ernie Ruber, New England Estuarine Research Society member, Mashpee, MA, Professor Emeritus, Northeastern University

"This book is amazing in its scope, detail, and interesting presentation of facts and history. Macfarlane has a passionate love of our seas, the inhabitants within and our interactions with the oceans over the centuries. The book was a deceptively easy read and I was surprised how often I had to sort out the headlines of the daily news with what I had been reading. Whales in Boston Harbor in late August were a surprising sight but Macfarlane gives you the background information that explains the changes we are seeing. Her explanations are marvelously complex and straight forwardly simple. I was fascinated by the difference perceptions of the sea’s bounty by the Native American culture and those arriving on our shores from Europe. I learned about the historical fishing industry, the effect of improved fishing techniques creating bigger and bigger fish harvests and the affects that has had on overfishing various species. Tying it all together is the effect of global warming of our oceans and the changes in the Gulf Stream. This is a great book for anyone interested in the oceans, the interconnectedness of all species and our effect on the world in which we reside as one of a variety of species connected to the larger whole."
Sandy Emler, Concerned Citizen who loves the sea and all the creatures within

"I am half-way through your book at this point. I am blown away. It is beautifully (in some instances, when called for – lyrically) written. The STAGGERING amount of research graces the reader with concise history that would otherwise consume untenable resources of time, and your own unique perspective clarifies all of the otherwise inscrutable conflict. Just.

My initial thoughts were somewhat along the line of: 'You’ve outdone yourself'! But as I read on, I realize the larger truth: 'You’ve hit your stride!'

I can see why it took so long. So much research, so much effort coordinating all of that with your own perspectives."
Bob Warner, Orleans, MA

"I just have to tell you how much I am enjoying the book. I just finished chapter 3 and can hardly put it down. It is so compelling...the urgency of the problems, the clarity of your writing! It is really wonderful."

"This book could not have been written without your years of experience, and, more importantly, your ability to pull all of those insights together. "
Susan Devogel, Bentonville, VA

"This is a MUST READ for all who care about our fragile Big Blue Marble. Sandy Macfarlane is a brilliant writer who "mixes it all up" sharing history, culture, science - into a comprehensive explanation of the interconnected "whole". Bravo my dear friend!!"
Patti Holsclaw

Praise for "Rowing Forward, Looking Back" Purchase Here


Commercial fishing has never been a glamorous life or trade, despite the attempts by books like The Perfect Storm, The Hungry Ocean, and The Heart of the Sea to bring an appreciation of it into the mainstream. And this newest addition to the commercial fishing tell-all lineup is certainly less sophisticated than some of its predecessors … but since it is about the life and memories of one particular fisherman here on the lower Cape, it has a certain allure for us that they may not.
DJeannette de Beauvoir, Provincetown Magazine read the full review »

It [Rowing Forward, Looking Back] is probably the best written, best edited book of its kind. And that comparison includes the stuff from Bill Amos, the Teals et al!… Even Gunner Thorson…”
Dr. Jack Pearce, North American Editor, Marine Pollution Bulletin

“There is no drought when it comes to books written about Cape Cod. …What moves Macfarlane’s book to the head of the list is her ability to infuse personality with science and to demystify the complex biological processes that unfold in the marine environment….[The book] is not only an account of the evolution of shellfish propagation and the greater understanding of our marine environment. It is the story of the growth of a community as it enters the unchartered waters of unprecedented economic growth. And, surely of the greatest entertainment, it is the story of the growth and evolution of a woman who seemed born for her job, who performed it with that same sense of destiny.”
Michael Lee, Cape Cod Voice

“The narrative is told in the voice of someone who obviously loves the place and wants it to be both a productive shellfish area and a great place to live….The light side of life and an appreciation of the beauty of nature is never far from the forefront. Much of the musings rise up from Sandy’s meditative rowing through the waters of the town. The book is well written in a very readable style with facts interspersed with humor of the local people who work on the water adding the occasional chuckle. It makes the reader … think about the parallels between Orleans and his own area. It is a subtle call to action to continue to do the right thing and protect the estuarine resources before they are wiped out by the people who moved there to enjoy them.”
Gef Flimlin, Book Review, National Shellfisheries Association Newsletter

“So begins Macfarlane’s story, which chronicles her journey from a young, hopeful college graduate, to municipal biologist who had lived and worked through three decades of radical environmental, political and regulatory change….What began as a quest to understand what had happened to the quahog industry … blossomed into an understanding of the web … that connects people and place. … Macfarlane’s book is important. Macfarlane the storyteller brings the layperson to a deeper understanding of the forces that have changed the Cape.”
Susannah Graham Pye, The Cape Codder

Sandy Macfarlane … uses a mighty big scoop in this combination of a professional memoir and a natural history of the town’s bays. What she fishes out of her life work constitutes a survey course in resources management, a sharp-edged sociological study of change in her community, and moments of grace experienced while gliding through her liquid domain. … We watch Macfarlane put her back into learning the techniques of raking for shellfish she can study. We sit with her as she rides out onto [the] beach to plow an area in which to grow clams and are stunned by her beautiful description of what she discovers. ‘About two feet underground, we did find a set of clams that had died…. [they] were all still oriented in the way that they would have been if alive. They looked like praying hands buried in the sand’.”
Edward F. Maroney, The Barnstable Patriot

“Sandy’s book is no tiresome rant from an ultra-green standing on the sidelines of some environmental disaster in the making, it’s a wonderfully written evocation of an environmental situation from someone right down in the mud of the bay, wrestling with the problem and what to do about it daily, someone who didn’t just point and shout, but worked at the task for a quarter century… She has just now retired… giving her time to write her book for all of us who value such seashore environments to learn from.”
Bob Hicks, Messing About in Boats

“Sandy’s work and her book cover the range from basic to applied research, application of both knowledge and absence of knowledge in management decisions, the progressive scientific and public awareness of the consequences of coastal development and population growth, and the oft-surprising combinations of people who seek to restore and improve our coastal resources for the future.”
Marshall Pregnall, Estuarine Research Federation Newsletter

“It is a tale of love and loss, determination and success, of anguish and failure. And it is all true. …Even the Chatham break couldn’t undo what man’s development, slowly but surely, was already doing to destroy the marine ecosystem. As the state’s first full time shellfish biologist hired by a town, and the first full-time conservation administrator, she has been at the leading edge of efforts to reverse long-time pollution problems that threaten both marine and salt water systems…”
John Leaning, Cape Cod Times

“She [Macfarlane] carefully weaves together her story and Cape Cod’s into a sometimes unraveling tapestry of environmental change, one which has not yet reached the end of the loom.”
Ben Neal, Working Waterfront/Inter-Island News

“I expected to learn a lot from “Rowing Forward” – but did not expect especially to enjoy it. I enjoyed it hugely! Reads like a novel. Very well written and organized. Thanks very much for doing it.”
E. Stanley Goldman, Author

“Rowing Forward” should be required reading for anyone living on the Cape.”
June Fletcher, Author and founder of Friends of Meetinghouse Pond

“I loved your book, “Rowing Forward, Looking Back.” If you can get me to understand “eutrophication,” it is a compliment to your writing skills. You keep positive in conversational tone, blaming no single group for the problems. Certain sentences like “new selectmen found themselves tentatively holding the rudder and mainsheet and hoping a fresh breeze would get the boat moving.” That’s beautiful.
Charles McOuat, letter to author

Praise for "Tiggie: the Lure and Lore of Commercial Fishing in New England" Purchase Here

IPPY Award Winner of Bronze Medal, Best Regional Nonfiction – Northeast; Independent Book Publishers Awards

“A book penned by an old antagonist is often a hatchet job, but that’s far from the case when Sandy Macfarlane partnered with Charles “Tiggie” Peluso on the story of his half-century in the fishing business….It’s a page turner. The tome is rich in character and Peluso’s voice is strong.”
Rich Eldred, the Cape Codder

We knew Sandy Macfarlane could turn a mean phrase about Cape Cod and its salty ways, thanks to her previous book, “Rowing Forward, Looking Back: Shellfish and the Tides of Change at the Elbow of Cape Cod.” She has a way of rendering the language of commercial fishing accessible and realistic. Now, in “Tiggie” the Lure and Lore of Commercial Fishing in New England,” Macfarlane had given us an invaluable look at the men, women, and tgechniques of an era that has virtually disappeared…. Macfarlane steps out of the limelight and gives Tiggie his voice; the two might be oil and water everywhere else but they’ve made a terrific writing team…Tiggie Peluso’s candor and Sandy Macfarlane’s shaping have created a riveting package.”
Michael Lee, Cape Cod Voice