Tackling a subject as deep and I mean that literally as the ocean is not a task for just any writer. But Simon Winchester, a former reporter who has put his research skills to use on books about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary, ably turns out a detailed and dramatic history of one of our most valuable resources. He also provides the book’s narration, with an expert’s reading that brings plenty of passion to an otherwise dry subject.
Winchester structures the book around Shakespeare’s famous passage about the seven stages of man the one that starts out, “All the world’s a stage” and traces life from its “infant beginnings” to its “sans everything” end. Here, the seven stages belong to the ocean, starting with its geological development and ending with a look at just how long it may last. In between, Winchester draws together countless stories, anecdotes, trivia, and facts, showing just how influential the Atlantic has been on life as we know it: Piracy, Moroccan snails, naval development, the age of exploration, whaling, poetry, literature, art, music, the Lusitania, global warming, international laws, pollution, submarines, seafood, overfishing, the slave trade, Lord Nelson, NATO, air travel, the Titanic, deadly battles, hurricanes, and Columbus all get their spot in, as Winchester says, “the immense complexity of an ocean that has been pivotal to the human story”.
Though it’s not always purely chronological, the organization by theme makes wading through this epic biography easy, and Winchester’s authoritative British accent lends a pleasant tone. And once you’ve heard about all the misconceptions people used to have about the ocean like that heavier objects would sink not just faster but farther toward the bottom than lighter ones, which would stay suspended at shallower depths you’ll wonder just how much more we have to learn. Blythe Copeland
From best-selling author Simon Winchester comes the immense and thrilling story of the world's most mysterious and breathtaking natural wonder: the Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantic is a biography of a tremendous space that has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists, and warriors, and continues to affect profoundly our character, attitudes, and dreams. Spanning the ocean's story, from its geological origins to the age of exploration, from World War II battles to today's struggles with pollution and over-fishing, Winchester's narrative is epic, intimate, and awe inspiring.
Until a thousand years ago, few humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to its far shores - whether they were Vikings, the Irish, the Basques, John Cabot, or Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south - the Atlantic swiftly evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water. Soon it became the fulcrum of Western civilization. More than a mere history, Atlantic is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope by one of the most gifted writers in the English language.
©2010 Simon Winchester (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
Atlantic is well researched, interesting and superbly narrated. Between the so very interesting details Winchester weaves together, ranging from geology to geography to science to the personalities, the story is captivating. Winchester's vibrancy of language, coupled with his wonderful voice, make this a most entertaining and very informative audiobook.
The first half or so of the book is fantastic. I immediately put several of Winchester's books on my wish list. Unfortunately the book slides into a global warming boiler plate and never regains its initial grace. Regardless of one's view on climate change - and I agree that it is changing - this just isn't how the book was billed. So I wound up with a sack of oranges when I thought I was buying apples. Climate change activists that pick up the book because of a good review based on the book's climate credentials will be disappointed overall (though they will be happy that someone of Winchester's stature is championing the cause) and the reader just looking for a good historical story will be put off by the surreptitious nature of its activist message.
I love Simon Winchester books. They are not for everyone though. If you are interested in trivia like what lured the Phoenicians out of the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean (mollusks that give off royal purple dye) and like the concept that the Atlantic Ocean has a history that is unbelievably interesting, this book is for you. Plus, I love Simon Winchester's reading.
I first became acquainted with Simon Winchester when I listened to him read his book Krakatoa several years ago. Since that time, I think I've enjoyed all of his audio book presentations. Atlantic is one of the best.
Many of his works have a geology story associated with them - and the connections between geology the subject of the book are fascinating. He has a gift for sharing insights about phenomena that leave the listener wondering - "I never knew that - why haven't I heard that before".
I've grown to love Simon Winchester's writing style - wrapping a thought in layers of adjectives to create a rich, thought-provoking visual picture of a concept he is teaching.
I really like the fact that this author reads his own works. His reading performance is wonderful and I never tire of hearing his personable, authentic and empathetic voice.
Atlantic weaves a fascinating story from the ocean's creation to its exploration and plundering by mankind. Simon Winchester explores the role of the Atlantic ocean in history and speculates about its future.
Take the opportunity to listen to this book, or any of Simon Winchester's other well-reseached books to learn much from this master teacher.
Simon Winchester has once again, researched in depth, and found a great theme. He has personalized it with his own experience, and turned in a superb performance!!
The way it explained changes in the earth and some of the consequences past and possible future.
At the end of the book when the writer goes to the site of a naval disaster and what he finds, the whole story of the calamity and the timeline made it very real.
When the writer described the scene of one of mans first communities near the ocean.
No, I think it would have been too much for one sitting.
This book got me thinking of the present changes in our weather patterns and what might be causing the changes, man VS nature.
I loved Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa and thought I would like this as well. Unfortunately I found it unfocused and didn't like the first few stories. I usually finish books I start, but I abandoned this one early on. Maybe it gets better further into it?
Simon Winchesters voice is a delight to listen though.
This book is easily among the 10 best audiobooks I own.
Simon Winchester tells a story like no one else writing today. His classical education simply sparkles in this book. He looks at the history and geography of an entire ocean and asks questions no one else would think of, and then goes on to answer them using the old oral tradition of true storytelling.
If you're not farmilliar with Simon Winchester, this is a good book to read as an introduction to his work. Atlantic will surprise you with how interesting a subject can be, when most of us would simply think of it as an ocean that we learned all we needed to know about years ago. If you don't purchase this book, do try something by Simon Winchester. You'll be glad you did.
This book is amazing. It covers a broad span of subjects with sufficient depth to be interesting. It is coherent, cogent and concise. It is also poetic and emotional without being sappy.
Simon Winchester at his best. If you yearned for more books like Outposts (30 years ago) then this is a treasure. The author has had 30 years to refine his already great skill with prose into a truly unique view of the Atlantic Ocean. A must read for everyone! William Manchester glanced off the topic in a World Lit By Fire but Winchester hits his target right on. I have an English professor friend who refuses to go on the the next Winchester book until she has relished every word. That person is now four books behind in reading and has yet to get to Krakatoa or the Man Who Loved China. What a loss.
Thank you Simon Winchester once again. Maybe a book about Chaucer and Phillipa next?
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