An unsystematic and, unfortunately, also uninspired introduction to the American seacoasts. Costello, a prolific nature-writer (The Prairie World, The Desert World, etc.), has assembled a mÃ‰lange of anecdotes from his seashore experiences and interspersed these with descriptive materials. Animals, plants, birds, sand dunes, estuaries, and marshes are all treated in a cursory, cataloguing fashion--with more common and scientific names in evidence than the untutored reader could possibly absorb. (""The sea-cliff birds specialize in two ways. The glaucous gull, Brandt's cormorant, and the common murre nest on rocky ledges, cliff tops and offshore islands. The rhinoceros auklet digs burrows in grassy areas on headlands and inaccessible sea stacks. The tufted puffin, a few of which nest on the California coast, prefers vertical sea cliffs. The common characteristic of these colonial birds is that they feed at sea. . ."") Meanwhile the sections jump from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Gulf Coast with bewildering speed, the net result being that we learn a little about an enormous area. Costello, moreover, constantly refers the reader to other works, especially field guides, from which he has obviously gathered much information. It would seem to make more sense to consult the originals--or to read, for pleasure and edification, Philip Kopper's recent profile of the Atlantic beaches, The Wild Edge.