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.
©2015 Simon Winchester (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"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)
Prof of Global Health & Development - wide interests, fiction & non-, politics, justice & rights, culture & food, travel, art & creativity
Simon Winchester sketches a series of historic, cultural, diplomatic and economic scenarios, all centred on the Pacific, each adding depth to the powerful forces operating...
Opening with the Bikini Atoll and nuclear weapons testing and the associated cultural annihilation of the original Bikini inhabitants, Winchester presents a seascape of issues and challenges, culminating with the rise of China as an economic and military force, the disputes over the South China Sea, and the difficulties for the West of relinquishing power and influence.
Building on data supplemented by insights and anecdotes, Winchester explores environmental changes including El Nino, global temperature, sea level rises and implications for people and the coral reef; the force and fury of hurricanes, typhoons and tsunamis in Darwin, the Philippines and Banda Aceh; the origins of surfing and its commercialisation; the enlarging swirling Pacific garbage dump; Australia and its knife-edge racism-multiculturalism that welcomes migrants but abuses asylum seekers; the ascent of South Korea and the transfer of Hong Kong to China... and lots more.
Informative, entertaining, and surprisingly compelling...
I'm a big fan of narrative non fiction audiobooks. I like to learn new things and have my interest held. this book delivered in spades. I purchased it because my brother in law was engrossed in Krakatoa by the same author over Christmas.
I'd suggest the subject, writing and delivery combine the best from Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Christopher Hitchens. Some chapters are more enthralling than others, but I bet the ones I liked most will be different from yours as the subject matter varies widely - and it's all the better for it.
If only the author could record Krakatoa too... please?
Lots of fascinating interesting stories, bound together by an important theme of our time, the shift East away from the Atlantic World to the Pacific. Also beautifully narrated by the author himself.
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