Topsail Island is a North Carolina barrier island lying between the Outer Banks and Wilmington. Though 26 miles long, it is but 200 yards wide in places and encompasses only 15 square miles. Residents and visitors call it a stretch of paradise.Or even "Mayberry." It's easy to see why. Because of its small land area, Topsail has not been subject to the large-scale development of island communities like Nags Head to the north and Wrightsville Beach to the south. Indeed, it remains largely in the idyllic state those places knew half a century ago-a small beach town with few commercial trappings, a family haven whose devotees return generation after generation, a paradise where it's possible to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over Topsail Sound from the same cottage.But Topsail's outward simplicity belies its rich history and complex future. The island's name? Those strange block-like towers spaced along the beach? Remnants of a top-secret missile program. The sweeping new bridge? Travel is smoother and quicker, but gone is the beloved and iconic Swing Bridge. Fishing piers and the modest old-time cottages with the whimsical nameplates? They've survived some of the worst storms Mother Nature has devised -- infamous storms like Hazel, Bertha, Fran, and Florence -- only to see their owners tempted by developers offering big money. In the award-winning Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea, author Ray McAllister tells the many stories of Topsail with the help of those who love the island best.