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Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean by Simon…

Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean (2010)

by Simon Winchester

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slow at the start, gets better. very dense read. ( )
  dham340 | May 10, 2015 |
Winchester took on a huge, and probably impossible, task in "Atlantic". Telling the history of this ocean clearly isn't something that can be accomplished in one book.

That said, the author once again makes what could have been a dreary, boring tale of statistics into an intimate and interesting story, using the Seven Ages of Man as his controlling metaphor. This reader, at least, was pulled along and found very few dragging spots.

Among other aspects of the Atlantic, Winchester discusses the slave trade and the destruction of the Outer Banks cod fisheries--for both of which mankind should be deeply ashamed--to demonstrate mankind's more disgusting uses of what should be one of our greatest treasures.

All in all, a worthwhile read. I could have done with much more about the flora and fauna, but that's my own prejudice. ( )
1 vote bohemima | Feb 25, 2015 |
Enjoyable, meandering, easy to listen to. The kind of book that you can, and probably should, pick up and put down at intervals. I didn't finish it, and I imagine that next time, I'll read it a chapter at a time, with breaks for other books.
  themulhern | Dec 23, 2014 |
I love Simon Winchester: Best selling author, broadcaster, journalist at The Guardian. I've been lucky enough to hear him speak and found him charming and delightful. A biography of the Atlantic Ocean would seem a huge and daunting task, even to such an accomplished writer. He fairly says as much while explaining his decision to use Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" as an organizing literary device. We see the youth of early geological formation and exploration, the soldiers of the many wars waged on her expanse and are given a hint of her tectonic demise. Throughout is a fact-o-rama of tidbits, tales, personal stories and anecdotes. If one 'age' doesn't catch your fancy, stick around as Winchester quickly moves along to yet another interesting and unknown account. Some narratives worked less well for me than others. I would suggest this as a book to graze through rather than trying to swallow in one large gulp. ( )
1 vote michigantrumpet | Dec 3, 2014 |
I've read most of Simon Winchester's books, and this is my least favorite. It really is a bulletin board of historical snippets, geology, ecology, and personal anecdotes, centered on the Atlantic Ocean. In the Introduction, Winchester discusses how he fretted about how to tell the tale and how he came to a "seven ages of man" organization. It didn't work for me. In most cases he's superficial, and often redundant. His description of the details of the slave trade is moving, and some of his personal experiences are interesting, but often it seemed like I was reading an almanac from cover to cover. ( )
  wdwilson3 | Sep 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon Winchesterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lisa VesteråsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torstein VelsandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Men might as well project a voyage to the Moon, as attempt to employ steam navigation against the stormy North Atlantic Ocean.Dionysius Lardner, Irish scientific writer and lecturer, 1838
This book is for Setsuko and in memory of Angus Campbell MacintyreFirst mate of the South African Harbour Board tug Sir Charles Elliott who died in 1942, trying to save lives and whose body lies unfound somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean
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(Preface) The ocean romance that lies at the heart of this book was primed for me by an unanticipated but unforgettable small incident.
(Prologue) A big ocean - and the Atlantic is a very big ocean indeed - has the appearance of a settled permanence.
The Kingdom of Morocco has on its most widely used currency bill neither a camel nor a minaret nor a Touareg in desert blue, but the representation of the shell of a very large snail.
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Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution. Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. 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. Atlantic 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. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters, all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. The author chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth's geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring.… (more)

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