John Hay, who has written about Cape Cod (Nature's Year, The Run), and Peter Farb, also a nature writer (Face of North America, The Living Earth) here focus on the North Atlantic shore from Labrador to the Hudson River ending at Staten Island and Long Island, New York. They look back to the time when the shore was planted by the forest primeval and bring its history down to the present, with man's encroachments. But in the main their book is given over to elements and environments and the plants and creatures that inhabit them. The authors have a way of generalizing, giving rather less specific detail than one might expect, so that the information aspects of the book are somewhat blurred. Yet there are intriguing items: the linking of a food chain from 10,000 pounds of diatoms to one-tenth of a pound of man, the succession of an oyster bed, the gannet kills, and the handling of birds is perhaps most satisfactory. The result is a rounded nature book in which the facts of particular species emerge but do not dominate: the region itself is the species under scrutiny. Forty-five drawings identify the region's common seaside plants and animals; there is a guide to the natural areas, and a bibliography. The first regional volume in the Harper North American Natural History Series, it is a creditable job while lacking a certain high excitement that sometimes attends a genuinely explorative nature book.