August 29, 1930, was a bright and sunny day on Hirta, the largest island in the North Atlantic’s St Kilda archipelago. Yet despite the cheerful weather, Hirta’s remaining 36 residents had ashen faces. They looked out at the rocky cliffs and steep, grassy slopes that anyone studying a map would call the end of the earth, but that they, and their ancestors, called home. The three dozen people stood under the crisp morning sky, its blue seeming to stretch 40 miles east to the Hebrides and even farther west to America, the next-closest landmass in that direction. They walked, or perhaps trudged, toward the 265-foot Anchusa-class HMS Harebell. She had been dispatched to collect them, and to relocate them to the Scottish mainland, before what was left of their civilization died off in isolation.