223 Following


Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories - Simon Winchester A thorough and leisurely accounting of the Atlantic from its creation 195 million years ago, when the supercontinent Pangaea began to break apart, to its eventual demise millions of years in the future, when the continents will have coalesced again. Despite the book's broad scope most of the focus is on the ocean's history with humans, beginning 164,000 years ago in South Africa where humans first lived by the sea, eating shellfish, honing blades and decorating themselves with ocher. From there the story continues on through the exciting early days of exploration when sailors first dared to leave the relative calm of the Mediterranean. Eventually the book describes the current state of the Atlantic which means, of course, overfishing, pollution, and global warming. One bright spot towards the end of the book is the 1986 discovery of Prochlorococus, a tiny oceanic microorganism that supplies as much as 20% of the world's oxygen. Obviously it would be very bad if anything happened to these vital but previously unknown little creatures. Fortunately they seem to like warm water so rather than being harmed by global warming they may actually lessen some of its damaging effects. Like any reader, certain parts of the book were more enjoyable to me than others. I was less interested in Winchester's accounts of his own adventures and emotions, but some of the history and science was fascinating. I read Winchester's Atlantic at the same time as I was reading Monsoon, a recent book by Robert D. Kaplan about the Indian Ocean, and I highly recommend looking at both of them. Both books make cases for the global importance of their body of water. Both authors traveled extensively in the areas they write about. Each book covers history and there is some interesting overlap, for instance the Portuguese explorers show up in both accounts. Monsoon spends more time than Atlantic on current culture and politics, with full chapters on many of the countries lining the Indian Ocean including Oman, the coastal areas of Pakistan and India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia, Zanzibar and China.