Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
Winchester, bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, returns to the natural world with his epic new book, a "biography" of the Atlantic Ocean, from its origins 370 million years ago through the population of its shores by humanity and their interactions with it. He sees the Atlantic as the vital ingredient in the blooming of Western civilization. He scrutinizes the early explorations from the Vikings and Norsemen through Columbus, detailing the perils of the open sea. With his excellent research and engrossing anecdotes about the ocean as "a living thing," Winchester spotlights its inspiration on poets, painters, and writers in its majestic beauty. Although he does not neglect the chief tragedies of the Atlantic, like the slave trade and the maritime battles, Winchester occasionally flits beelike from scene to scene, and the facts become lost in a blur. Maybe this is the price for such a monumental undertaking. Nevertheless, Winchester's sea saga is necessary reading for those who want to understand the planet better, even as, he notes, our waters are rapidly changing from pollution, overfishing, and climate change.
Praise for Atlantic
"History is rarely as charming and entertaining as when it's told by Simon Winchester. There are fabulout set pieces in Atlantic-on piracy, on packet ships, on trans-Atlantic cables and the speeding up of information, on cofish, on sea bass, on plankton."
- New York Times Book Review
"Simon Winchester is one of those maddeningly gifted British writers who could probably write the history of mud and make it fascinating. In fact, he sort of did...A rollicking ride... No one tells a better yarn than Winchester."
- Washington Post
"Winchester vividly describes how the Atlantic Ocean was born about 190 million years ago, continues to spread at the rate of about an inch a year and could well disappear as we know it in just another 180 million years.... Delightful."
- USA Today
"Convincing.... A fascinating look at a long sweep of history."
- Los Angeles Times
"Atlantic...is at once satisying, suspenseful (no mean trick on the subject of an ocean), thought- provoking, occasionally funny, and always absorbing. So big a subject as the Atlantic Ocean requires a certain largeness of spirit, and amplitude of descriptive power, and Simon Winchester is gloriously up to the task."
- Daily Beast
"Mr. Winchester-a trained geologist and inveterate globetrotter-is well suited to tell the story. And he tells it with the sort of panache that he has brought to previous book, such as Krakatoa, about the volcanic disaster of 1883, and The Professor and the Madman, about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary . . . . His lively, lyrical telling of the ocean's story does much to sharpen our appreciation."
- Wall Street Journal
"Telling the story of ‘the classic ocean of our imaginings' is a huge undertaking, but Simon Winchester manages it with aplomb."
- The Economist
"A formidable writer and storyteller."
- Entertainment Weekly
"Fascinating....Simon Winchester's storytelling abilities shine, with personal anecdote and research expertly woven."
- The Guardian (London)
"Mr. Winchester's latest work of nonfiction is, like the 36-pound cod my father caught 40 years ago in the deep sea two hours out of Plymouth, Mass., "a keepuh" (New England parlance)...It's one of those you'd like to keep on a shelf for another read some time in the future."
- Baltimore Sun
"Refreshing....a work of "high specific gravity" and an outstanding example of popular historical scholarship."
- The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Simon Winchester has an uncanny ability to connect with readers, holding forth with the erudite charm of the fascinating dinner guest who is on everybody's invitation list."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Wonderful, encyclopedic....enthralling....Winchester brings us down to sea level and makes us realize what we owe to the Atlantic."
- The Telegraph (London)
- San Francisco Chronicle
"[An] epic new book... With his excellent research and engrossing anecdotes about the ocean as a 'living thing,' Winchester spotlights its inspiration on poets, painters, and writers in its majestic beauty... Winchester's sea saga is necessary reading for those who want to understand the planet better."
- Publishers Weekly
"Winchester waxes lyrical, rhetorical and historical in this broadly focused but eloquently detailed account of the great ocean and mankind's relation to it."
- The Kansas City Star
"Ambitious and thrilling....Simon Winchester is a gifted writer, and his fascinating, terrific narrative is, like his subject, a vast, roiling mass of travelogue, adventure, life journey, geology, biology, history - and ultimately, a warning of cataclysm and disaster."
- The Times (South Africa)
"Few writers working today can tackle such broad, sprawling – and at times overwhelming – material as Simon Winchester and deliver it with such skill, verve and grace....epic....Winchester is a master craftsman, and Atlantic is well worth the effort.... deftly executed, audacious."
- Miami Herald
"[A] tale about the Atlantic Ocean that is variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring... A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A lively adventure."
- The Toronto Star
"Interesting and informative....Mr. Winchester's yarns are not just sea stories; they are documented adventures...delightful....a fantastic yarn."
- Washington Times
"In the hands of author Simon Winchester, the ocean becomes a larger-then-life, near-eternal historical figure...Highly readable and well organized, delivering its various themes with authority...Anyone wanting an entirely new viewpoint of history should pick up Atlantic. The ocean is a mighty character with a powerful story. Winchester gives it an overdue voice."
- San Antonio Express-News
"A joy to read."
- Portland Press Herald
"Lyrical, rhetorical and historical.... Atlantic is written with a wry appreciation for history's eventual correction of mankind's injustices ...Informative, thoroughly engaging, often surprising and enlightening in the details it turns up.....one of Winchester's best books."
- Louisville Courier Journal
"In this detailed, engrossing and beautifully written book, Simon Winchester shows how the familiar sea at our front door is far more significant to the world than we ever supposed."
- Virginia Pilot and Star Ledger
"Fascinating...ingenious...exhilarating, absorbing...executed with verve and panache... The time is not too far off, it seems to me, when books like this will seem to be infused with a poignant nostalgia, the kind of nostalgia some readers experience nowadays with Joseph Conrad's tales of an empire on which the sun never set."
- Sydney Morning Herald
"Enjoyable and richly informative."
- The Telegraph (London)
"[Simon Winchester] colours the narrative with the history of every human endeavour related to it across the centuries, from the 7th century moment when Phoenician sailors ventured past the Pillars of Hercules on to the ages of exploration, colonisation and beyond. Winchester has, it seems, stopped at nothing in order to give life to this ocean's story."
- The Courier Mail (Australia)
"A fine yarn...the pages bustle with fascinating tales and a wealth of unexpected scientific and cultural detail....Winchester works to reinvest the Atlantic with the sense of wonder that it held for generations prior to ours."
- The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
"Of all of Winchester's amazingly educational and entertaining books...his latest one is perhaps the most unique and the most creative in its approach... as we learn from one of the most wondrous facts presented here, oceans actually do have life spans... lively and extensive... Winchester's latest is bound to follow his previous books onto bestseller lists, and this one should be promoted as one of his best."
"Poignant...Atlantic is a reminder that this most storied ocean will outlive us handily, and is still worthy of our interest, our care and our respect."
- Winnipeg Free Press