Islands are magic places,"" Laycock tells us, then proceeds to introduce the Galapagos, Hawaii, Florida's Keys, the Aleutian chain, Turtle Island, South Carolina, and the islands of Lake Erie with brief descriptions, some history, and perhaps an anecdote relating to each. We are given only a cursory explanation of the types and formations of islands in general. (Though more elementary, Delia Goetz' Islands Of The Ocean presents a far more comprehensive approach.) Laycock is chiefly interested in the introduction and adaptation of life to the islands. He captures some of the excitement surrounding the creation in 1973 of Surtsey, a volcanic island near Iceland, which gave scientists the opportunity not only to witness but to photograph an island's birth and to observe the progression of life upon it. As in his other books, Laycock is primarily concerned with the effects that man has had upon the natural ecosystems (particularly delicate in the case of islands), either directly (Manhattan Island) or indirectly (through, for example, the import of new species). Thumbnail descriptions of some of the islands included in the American national park system appear as an afterthought. While many of his observations and recollections are of interest, Laycock's disjointed approach does little to dispel--or evoke--the mystery of the islands.