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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.

Published: HarperCollins on Nov 2, 2010
ISBN: 9780062020109
List price: $9.99
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Ecellent review of an enormous topic- the Atlantic Ocean. Describes how the Atlantic was seen in different cultures, and how their views of the ocean changed as new discoveries changed their perceptions.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This will not defeat me. I will make it to the end. Much like those ocean crossers of yore.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book takes the reader on a journey not only across a body of water,but across time itself. It is not only a personal journey of the authors tofirst cross and then understand this body of water, but a story of the life of thesea and those whose lives are linked to it.Some of the most interesting points for me were the historical facts surroundingthe discovery of America itself. The men who crafted the boats that made theirway across what was then a much more treacherous body of water than we have today.More treacherous only because it was so unknown. Although the Atlantic is stilla force to be reckoned with, we do know and understand her a bit better.A map found in the fifties first seemed to point to the fact that it was the Norse to find Americafirst. This map ended up in the hands of Yale university, and this is where the real controversy began.Soon more maps and copies of a document drawn in 1570 was more important and more easily confirmed to be valid.Further investigation , years later.. found a Norse settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland, of whatwere obviously Norse ruins. There was much here that I did not know. Amerigo Vespucci of course takes the prize, as North and South America where given his name after he publishes his account of a new continent being discovered, not just a bit of land or an island.The author manages to tell the tale of an ocean with style. Often amusing and always able to hold onto the readers interest. He brings forth poetry, art and even music as being influenced by the great Atlantic. Shakespeare himself is given credit for the Atlantic's role in his play The Tempest.We hear about islands once mapped that never existed. We are reminded of the effect of the Atlantic on business.Who for instance looks out onto that great expanse and thinks of the cables laid beneath the water?Finally, we are reminded that the world today is so much smaller than it once was. An unmapped body of water that was once unknown, is now crossed daily both by air and on the sea itself. Where once great and fearless explorers left their home ports to see if it was true that they might fall off the edge of the earth, today teenagers make ill advised crossings on their own. Or, at least make the attempt.Even though today we have learned so much more than was known when the Norse and the Spanish explorers made their way across its waters, the Atlantic is still a force to be reckoned with. Even though we now have the tools to find most of her secrets, I suspect that there will always be a few left for generations to come to discover. I confess that I never gave much thought to the life of the sea itself. Any musings I have had were centered on the life within the sea or around it. Reading this book by Winchester has opened up a whole new perspective for me.Finally, we see how climate changes are affecting the Atlantic and thus the planet. I suspect that this isone of the reasons this book was written. WE need to acknowledge and try to understand that the effects that we have on the planet are fall from small, and will most likely have some serious effects on our way of life before much more time has passed.read more
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Ecellent review of an enormous topic- the Atlantic Ocean. Describes how the Atlantic was seen in different cultures, and how their views of the ocean changed as new discoveries changed their perceptions.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This will not defeat me. I will make it to the end. Much like those ocean crossers of yore.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book takes the reader on a journey not only across a body of water,but across time itself. It is not only a personal journey of the authors tofirst cross and then understand this body of water, but a story of the life of thesea and those whose lives are linked to it.Some of the most interesting points for me were the historical facts surroundingthe discovery of America itself. The men who crafted the boats that made theirway across what was then a much more treacherous body of water than we have today.More treacherous only because it was so unknown. Although the Atlantic is stilla force to be reckoned with, we do know and understand her a bit better.A map found in the fifties first seemed to point to the fact that it was the Norse to find Americafirst. This map ended up in the hands of Yale university, and this is where the real controversy began.Soon more maps and copies of a document drawn in 1570 was more important and more easily confirmed to be valid.Further investigation , years later.. found a Norse settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland, of whatwere obviously Norse ruins. There was much here that I did not know. Amerigo Vespucci of course takes the prize, as North and South America where given his name after he publishes his account of a new continent being discovered, not just a bit of land or an island.The author manages to tell the tale of an ocean with style. Often amusing and always able to hold onto the readers interest. He brings forth poetry, art and even music as being influenced by the great Atlantic. Shakespeare himself is given credit for the Atlantic's role in his play The Tempest.We hear about islands once mapped that never existed. We are reminded of the effect of the Atlantic on business.Who for instance looks out onto that great expanse and thinks of the cables laid beneath the water?Finally, we are reminded that the world today is so much smaller than it once was. An unmapped body of water that was once unknown, is now crossed daily both by air and on the sea itself. Where once great and fearless explorers left their home ports to see if it was true that they might fall off the edge of the earth, today teenagers make ill advised crossings on their own. Or, at least make the attempt.Even though today we have learned so much more than was known when the Norse and the Spanish explorers made their way across its waters, the Atlantic is still a force to be reckoned with. Even though we now have the tools to find most of her secrets, I suspect that there will always be a few left for generations to come to discover. I confess that I never gave much thought to the life of the sea itself. Any musings I have had were centered on the life within the sea or around it. Reading this book by Winchester has opened up a whole new perspective for me.Finally, we see how climate changes are affecting the Atlantic and thus the planet. I suspect that this isone of the reasons this book was written. WE need to acknowledge and try to understand that the effects that we have on the planet are fall from small, and will most likely have some serious effects on our way of life before much more time has passed.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quite disappointing-This does not meet Winchester standards
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An excellent read. A great perspective on history, politics, etc. The author brings you into the moment and in some cases incorporates his own experiences. Highly recommended.
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I loved the context Winchester gave to what was, in general, a very interesting set of facts and stories, many of which would be hard to fit into any type of anthology. What bothered me was the intense ethnocentricity of the book: after the first few chapters, the African continent becomes almost forgotten, and the importance and historic significance of the slave trade is ignored. Commerce and cultural development relating to the Caribbean as well, I believed, deserved a great deal more attention. In reference to the Spanish Basque presence in North America, I have read accounts that disagree with Winchester's, but I do not know who is correct.In general, however, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed what Winchester did choose to include as well as the framework he created for it.
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