Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and A Vast Ocean of A Million Stories

Book - 2010 | 1st ed.
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"Variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring...A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean. A gifted storyteller and consummate historian, Winchester sets the great blue sea's epic narrative against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution, telling not only the story of an ocean, but the story of civilization. Fans of Winchester's Krakatoa, The Man Who Loved China, and The Professor and the Madman will love this masterful, penetrating, and resonant tale of humanity finding its way across the ocean of history.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780061702587
Branch Call Number: 551.4613 WINCH
Characteristics: xiv, 495 p. : ill., maps.


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Part history, part biography – it’s a story that is over 310 million cubic kilometres of water in the making. Simon Winchester uses his personal experiences with the Atlantic and springboards into the history of this body of water and the people that have ventured across it. He nostalgically recalls his first journey across the Atlantic on a Canadian Pacific Liner which leads into stories of the first Europeans setting foot in North America (and no, it wasn’t Christopher Columbus). This book is about more than exploration. It delves into the depths of how it has been polluted over the years, as well as the fishing fleets and markets. For example, did you know that no one would buy a “toothfish” but when the name was changed to “Chilean sea bass,” people can’t get enough of them? I particularly enjoyed the audiobook version, which is read by the author himself. (submitted by BH)

Nov 17, 2016

I read Krakatoa, and am reading Pacific by the same author. Where Krakatoa was rish and non-judgmental, Atlantic reads more like an editorial opinion on the author's gripes with the colonial powers and with the wrongs of pollution, etc. This made the book ultimately a big disappointment and I found myself skipping over whole passages just to find the history and anthropological story which the author did so well in Krakatoa.

Apr 18, 2016

A well-structured and engagingly written book: one can begin to read and without the tiniest hiccup in the prose end up covering sixty pages. It motivates one to learn more about some aspect or other about the ocean, since the enthusiasm of the author penetrates whatever aspect he is writing about, and he seems to write about all of them. If it can be said to have a downside, its that its rather anglocentric, and near the end there is fifty pages weighing in on global warming and environmental issues.

Apr 23, 2013

The author seems too much in love with his own prose and display of geographical knowlege. He strains to keep the Atlantic Ocean on center stage. But he is at his best in relating his own personal experiences. A very large subject, necessarily (I think) covered shallowly, with much that was of little interest to me. It was a strain for me to finish.

Jul 17, 2011

Surely Mister Winchester has been most ambitious in his choice of topics for this, his most recent of books. Most authors, when they select their subject material, especially when the book is to be biographical in nature, select something a little more manageable, a little smaller in scope such as a movie star, perhaps George Clooney, or a sports hero such as Tim Horton; a person whose biography is morally uplifting such as Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer or, on the other hand, someone of totally dissolute character whose life we can relive vicariously. Authors choose the historical figures such as Winston Churchill or Sir Richard Burton. Rarely do they choose subjects that aren’t people such as the Spanish Lady (who wasn’t really a lady at all) or Dust. Maybe the latter two aren’t even appropriately to be termed biographies at all.
Winchester’s subject is no small topic. No mere titan of industry, no financial whiz, no star from the realm of scientific discovery, not one from the creative fields of literature or dance. The topic of his choice is, quite unabashedly, one of the earth’s major oceans; about twnty percent of the world’s surface.
Well organized, well written. Maybe not gripping but none the less engaging. Extending your Geographical knowledge, this book is packed full of oceanic lore.
The history from when it emerged from the Tethys to what it will become millions of years from now; the history of exploration, trade, and the migration of peoples. War, exploitation and pollution: all of these are worthy aspects of this work about the Atlantic. There are few considerations that Winchester leaves out.
This is a book, certainly, I would recommend to anyone except for those totally besotted by pulp-fiction or psycho-babble self-help books as to be totally beyond redemption.
At least a four out of five and worthy of your attention.

May 29, 2011

Returned May 30/11. Read up to page 206. Start at Here the Sea of Pity Lies

Feb 15, 2011

A really interesting read. Covers a lot of territory and time, events and geology.

debwalker Feb 10, 2011

Included in the White House Library presented to President Obama on January 20, 2011, by the American Booksellers Association.

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Nov 17, 2016

aslack004 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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