498 pages, B/w illus
For thousands of years the Atlantic Ocean was viewed by mariners with a mixture of awe, terror and amazement - an impassable barrier to the unknown. In recent times, as we fly high above it without so much as bothering to look down, this vast sea has been reduced to the status of a mere passageway between continents - 'the pond'. It is easy to forget that the Atlantic has been the setting for some of the most important exchanges, ideas and challenges in the history of civilisation - a fulcrum around which the power and influence of the modern world has long been distributed.
In this narrative tour de force, Simon Winchester dramatises the life story of the Atlantic, from its birth in the farther recesses of geological time to its eventual extinction millions of years in the future. At the heart of the book is the story of humankind's evolving attitude to and relationship with the ocean. For millennia it has shaped the lives and cultures of those who have lived along its shores and have navigated its waters.
Travelling around its edges and across its huge expanse, Winchester reports from the places that encapsulate the Atlantic's most fascinating stories - the age of exploration and the colonisation of the Americas; the rise and fall of the slave trade, and the flourishing of transatlantic commerce; extraordinary tales of sea-borne emigration; and the great naval battles that have left an indelible imprint on Atlantic history.
'Winchester unfolds this epic narrative with admirable simplicity: his prose style is conversational, and crackles with strange images. He marries even-handed scholarship with a gift for storytelling, neither dumbing down nor assuming any specific knowledge in his readership. This is from start to finish an enthralling book, and one that does justice to the magnitude of its subject' Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times 'Illuminating!a] wonderful, encyclopaedic book, pinpointing key moments in the narrative of an entire ocean and our relationship to it' Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph '[A] fabulous book' Scotsman 'An engaging account' Mail on Sunday '[Winchester] is maddeningly gifted ! a rollicking ride' Washington Post 'Enjoyable and richly informative' Telegraph
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