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

Simon Winchester
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2010

Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling 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. Simon Winchester 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.

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“Winchester brings a knowledge as vast and deep as his subject to this history of the Atlantic Ocean.” (Entertainment Weekly)

From the Back Cover

Atlantic is a biography of a tremendous space that has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists, and warriors, and 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 gray and heaving sea.

Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. More than a mere history, Atlantic is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope by one of the most gifted writers in the English language.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars A History of an Ocean March 27 2011
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
For those of us who love to read about the sea and all its mysterious powers, here is a masterful account of maritime history worth reading. Winchester, famous for writing about big topics such as imperial outposts and mighty volcanoes, has produced a colorful and detailed treatment of the Atlantic Ocean as it grudgingly yielded its bathyal wonders to modern civilization. This is a massive body of salt water that, in Winchester's mind, posed all kinds of intellectual, spiritual and physical challenges to early Europeans as they set out in earlier centuries to conquer its waters and claim the vast territory bordering them. In the mind of the ancients, there has always been an enduring legend lying deep beneath its surface: murky depths, strange creatures, fantastical mirages and supernatural forces. For a good part of the modern age, the Atlantic Ocean has been an inspiration for poets, musicians, novelists, and painters as they tried to capture the feelings of being swallowed up in its great and terrifying expanse. A reading of "Atlantic" launches into some of the ingenious and daredevil enterprises undertaken in the name of expanded trade and commerce, military conflict, shipbuilding, fishing, telegraphy, and marine biology. Winchester recounts numerous stories about illustrious people like Alcock and Brown, Drake, Magellan and Nelson who saw this ocean as a natural obstacle to be conquered in order to create a bigger and better world. While ocean travel is now an ordinary experience that has been superceded by high-altitude jet travel, the Atlantic Ocean still retains a dominant and sometimes awesome impact on our lives. It is the source of much of our inclement weather in the northern hemisphere and, up until now, a reliable food source. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Eurocentric but beautiful ocean history May 4 2014
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Winchester has had a lifetime of Atlantic crossings, and can weave his personal accounts in with those of vast numbers of other voyagers down the centuries. It's a rambling and enthusiastic book, full of historical lore and incredibly detailed vocabulary. It features the drama of geological plate tectonics, but mostly focuses on Western man, especially English man, at sea. There's the early explorers, the seaside cities, the naval wars, and commercial advances Only late in the book does Winchester look seriously at the life within the sea. He never gets really oceanographical, and includes no accounts of undersea explorers. Still, the accounts of overfishing and global warming are gripping. Maybe the best part is the fascinating and informative but admittedly speculative writing on how the seas may be changing -- chemically, biologically, and climatically. Always the concern is on how humanity and the ocean affect each other's lives. Winchester's conviction that the Atlantic is at the core of human history is Eurocentric, but his appreciation for the sea's majesty is pretty universal
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Oct. 30 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Atlantic" was a wonderful book to experience. I was hooked (sorry!) from the first, with the use of the poem to describe the stages in the ocean's development, comparing with the human stages.
It is rich, absorbing, and full of incredible knowledge.
I have since bought the book: the Kindle couldn't display the maps well, and I want to keep this for my "real book" library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atlantic Dec 12 2011
This book is typical Winchester. Well researched, thorough , thought provoking with great accuracy in describing land fixtures. The man's education and past experiences are very obvious and are used in a very charming way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atlantic May 31 2011
By Jazz
A very entertaining book Informative and entertaining
A great read for the curious and inquisitive mind
Have bought additional copies to give to friends and relatives
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