Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future.
The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini Atoll, in 1951.
It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional postwar obsessions with Europe and the Middle East and towards a new set of urgencies.
Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.
"Winchester pioneered the genre of popular narrative history...[he] understands that specificity is what counts, as it always does in writing." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Simon Winchester is a literary impresario.... This is a clever, engaging and original look at what would seem well-trodden historical paths; but Winchester, delightfully, breaks a fresh trail." (Economist)
"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)
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The Pacific - Tumultuous Ocean
- Tony Douglas