I’m in the reading zone these days, with a particular bent towards non-fiction. I’ve always enjoyed Simon Winchester’s books, and while this one annoyed me for its backhanded forays into the world of modern politics (if I wanted to read snide remarks about today’s political doings, I would pick up a book by one of today’s many overpaid political pundits), Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories is still a delightful book. Winchester is a great researcher and adventurer, and an incredibly talented writer. And the Atlantic is a truly epic book, one that spans millions of years and several different disciplines from geology to oceanography, from ship-building to poetry writing.
Perhaps the aspect of this book I enjoyed this most is how often it had me running for my maps, or at least the maps on my iPhone. I teach college courses on geography, and I still had never heard of 90% of the places Winchester mentions. It was tremendous fun looking everything up and learning about not just those remote lands but the equally remote waters around them. You really can’t read this book without a map nearby, so be prepared!
In addition to being a fun read, this book would also make a great Christmas or birthday present for a wide variety of people. So if you know someone who lives near the Atlantic, on it, who loves the ocean, who loves ships, who loves geology or oceanography – this is a great book to give. There are actually few books that work well as such a universal gift, but this one does. Enjoy!