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Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral…

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal…

by Simon Winchester

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3581644,614 (3.84)32



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What a joy. Winchester has such good narrative skills, each part of the story just flows along with ease and interest maintained for pages. Suddenly you're 200 pages in and not tired! We may quarrel with some of his conclusions, but all the fun and interest is in getting there. History and analysis made easy. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Aug 20, 2018 |
In his inimitable way, Simon Winchester sets out to prove the vast importance of the Pacific Ocean, not only in the past and present, but in our future. For the most part, he succeeds.

The size of the Pacific Ocean is immense and almost beyond our reckoning. It is the source of the world's weather and has survived atomic bombs, transistors, and the abysmal treatment of its native peoples. Winchester takes us on a mesmerizing journey from one end of the Pacific to the other, from east to west and north to south, with lots of stops on tiny islands and archipelagos along the way.

Winchester has been one of my favorite non-fiction writers since his unforgettable The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. He's opened my eyes to many things and encouraged me to read deeper into many of the subjects he brings to light. However, I have to admit that I am concerned about an error I found while reading this particular book. In it, Winchester talks about traveling up the Mississippi River past the city of Des Moines. I did some research in an attempt to discover if my memory had blown a fuse, but it hadn't. Des Moines is certainly not on the banks of the Mississippi River between Hannibal and St. Louis, Missouri, as stated in his book, and that's what has me concerned. If a simple yet glaring mistake like that can make its way to the final edition of the published book, how many other errors made it through, too? And if there are errors in this book, what about his others? One city in the wrong place can cause so much harm. ( )
  cathyskye | Nov 27, 2017 |
A well written series of essays about the effect that the largest ocean has on the world overall. There is a mixtre of toics ranging from the sociological through the ecological and ending with a frightening chapter on the growth of Chinese Imperialism in the Pacific. This is not good news for the middle or small nation, and very bad news for the American of the twenty first century. Couple this information about China with actions of North Korea, and the inaction of China in the North Korea and USa standoff, and the way in which Donald Trump is being exploited by the two asian powers, Russia and China becomes obvious. Mr. Winchester's clear prose rolls along very readably, and though the use of non-colour maps sets one's teeth on edge, the result is a very informative book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 7, 2017 |
Sorry to have to say but this is a collection of disjointed essays that fail to engage. Had the distinct feeling that this was the author just churning out another book on a subject (and sub-subjects) he's covered before. Other reviewers cover the chapter contents if you want to persevere. A book to take out of the library, not worth purchasing as I doubt anyone would pick it up for a second read. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
This book is as massive as its title. Winchester chooses 10 seemingly random events and uses them to talk about a wide variety of situations and issues related to life in and around the Pacific Ocean. For example, the invention of the transistor radio is a springboard to talk about how Japan became a technological powerhouse in the second half of the 20th century, and one undersea dive by a submersible craft named Alvin launches a discussion of the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the sea, and what the creatures that live in these vents add to our knowledge of how life developed on Earth. It is a long book and does require perseverance, but I found a great deal of interest, especially in the chapter on the Korean War. If you liked Atlantic, you’ll probably like this one, too. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jun 27, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062315412, Hardcover)

Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature.

As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. With China on the rise, so, too, are the American cities of the West coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, and the long cluster of towns down the Silicon Valley.

Today, the Pacific is ascendant. Its geological history has long transformed us—tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis—but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan’s sixteenth-century circumnavigation. It is a natural wonder whose most fascinating history is currently being made.

In telling the story of the Pacific, Simon Winchester takes us from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to the many small islands and archipelagos that lie in between. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego, the land at the end of the world. His journey encompasses a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, a trek across South Korea and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor.

Winchester’s personal experience is vast and his storytelling second to none. And his historical understanding of the region is formidable, making Pacific a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 26 Jul 2015 05:14:48 -0400)

The New York Times best-selling author of The Men Who United the States traces the geological history of the Pacific Ocean to assess its relationship with humans and indelible role in the modern world.

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