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

Winchester, Simon

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vastness. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores, whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south, the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. This book is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast. The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. The author chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0061702625
Branch Call Number: 551.4613 W759a 2010
Characteristics: xiv, 495 p. :,ill., maps ;,24 cm


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Apr 23, 2013
  • Vic4132 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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
  • dundasvalleymom rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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

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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