North Carolina

Land of Water, Land of Sky

By Bland Simpson

Photographs by Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor, and Tom Earnhardt

240 pp., 8.5 x 11, 103 color plates, index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6583-2
    Published: October 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6584-9
    Published: September 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6266-2
    Published: September 2021

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, 2023 Reed Environmental Writing Award, Southern Environmental Law Center

Winner, 2021 North Caroliniana Society Book Award

Bland Simpson, the celebrated bard of North Carolina's sound country, has blended history, observation of nature, and personal narrative in many books to chronicle the people and places of eastern Carolina. Yet he has spent much of his life in the state's Piedmont, with regular travels into its western mountains. Here, for the first time, Simpson brings his distinctive voice and way of seeing to bear on the entirety of his home state, combining storytelling and travelogue to create a portrait of the Old North State with care and humor.


Three of the state’s finest photographers come along to guide the journey: Simpson's wife and creative partner, Ann Cary Simpson, professional photographer Scott Taylor, and writer and naturalist Tom Earnhardt. Their photos, combined with Simpson's rich narrative, will inspire readers to consider not only what North Carolina has been and what it is but also what we hope it will be. This book belongs on the shelf of longtime residents, newcomers, and visitors alike.

About the Authors

Bland Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also pianist for the Red Clay Ramblers, the Tony Award-winning string band, and has collaborated on such musicals as Diamond Studs, Fool Moon, Kudzu, and King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running. In 2005 he was the Fine Arts recipient of the North Carolina Award, the state's highest civilian honor.
For more information about Bland Simpson, visit the Author Page.

Ann Cary Simpson, photographer, served for thirty years at national and North Carolina environmental organizations and UNC's School of Government. She now is a senior associate with moss + ross strategic consulting.
For more information about Ann Cary Simpson, visit the Author Page.

Tom Earnhardt, photographer, is the renowned host-writer-director of the long-running PBS North Carolina show Exploring North Carolina.  He was a professor of law at North Carolina Central University and is author of North Carolina: Crossroads of the Natural World.
For more information about Tom Earnhardt, visit the Author Page.

Scott Taylor is a professional photographer and educator based in Beaufort, North Carolina. He currently holds the position of chair of the Photographic Technology Program at Carteret Community College in Morehead City.
For more information about Scott D. Taylor, visit the Author Page.


"Simpson is an ideal travel companion to explore and understand the complexity and diversity of North Carolina. . . . the author and musician’s rich narrative voice — often humorous, deeply knowledgeable, and always generous — paints a rich triptych of the breadth of our state, from Down East to the 'short hills and sand hills' of central North Carolina to the 'jump-up country' of the Great Smoky Mountains."—Our State

"A handy coffee table book of Tar Heel images with terrific text. . . . extravagantly illustrated by images from three of the state's foremost photographers . . . Along with stops on the Outer Banks and the barrier islands, he ventures into North Carolina's coasts and mountains, focusing on the natural wonders. It's a delightful trip."—Wilmington Star-News

“The research is thorough. The photographs are exquisite .The book inspires memories, and inspires travel to the places Simpson describes.” --Community Sports News

“A stunning account. . . . Bland Simpson has written a compelling love letter to our entwined ‘goodliest land’ amplifying our collective appreciation for the sanctuary of home and kinship.” --National Public Radio

“Simpson is a master storyteller. His moving and deeply human narrative captures a lifetime of indelible memories and life tales, taking readers on an adventure through North Carolina and inviting them to share his love affair with the land and its people.”—David Zucchino, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Wilmington’s Lie

"In his latest offering, the king of nonfiction narratives about North Carolina's coast expands to offer his readers a nostalgic look at the entire state."—Carolyn Sakowski, author of Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads