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Duck: An Outer Banks Village

Judith D. Mercier

John F. Blair, Publisher
$18.95 hardcover
4 ¾ x 7 ½    
259 pages
Published in 2001

Unimagined when the British built colonies at Roanoke Island to the south and Jamestown to the northwest, unnamed when the Wright brothers flew just a stone’s throw away, still largely undiscovered when Rusty Schweikart snapped his famous photo of the North Carolina coast from Apollo 9, Duck is the last boom town on the Outer Banks. In just a few decades, it has been transformed into a place where there are a thousand summer tourists for every native, where absentee landlords own far more property than do year-round residents.

Part personal essay, part oral history, Duck: An Outer Banks Village is the lyrically told story of an unforgettable place. Built on a spit of shifting sand barely a half-mile wide, highly subject to the wind and the sea, the village has always placed unusual demands on those who would live here. Duck old-timers had to be hunters, fishermen, farmers, and “wreckers”—all at the same time.

Author Judith D. Mercier captures both the village’s glory days—when shooting six hundred ducks constituted merely an average day for a market hunter—and its forgotten moments—like one man’s heroic attempt to create an African-American beach resort during the Jim Crow years. What emerges is a portrait of a community—or, in the words of the locals, a neighborhood—seeking to preserve its past as it tackles the future.


“Judy Mercier writes with knowing affection about the old-timers, the newcomers, and an island landscape that is both harsh and beautiful. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves the seashore in all weathers, who savors tradition and community, who reads for the deep pleasure of inhabiting a familiar yet exotic place.” —Philip Gerard, author of Cape Fear Rising
“I must admit that I had never in my life spent a sleepless night wondering about the land and the people of Duck, North Carolina, or about the Outer Banks, either. Nonetheless I found this book fascinating—a page-turner, for sure. The book carries the two most important requisites for good creative non-fiction: fascinating subject matter and excellent writing. And it is thoroughly researched. Both old-timers and newcomers spring to life and entertain in these pages, as does the village of Duck and its history. A good read. Thanks.” —Amazon.com reviewer