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Download Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories epub

by Simon Winchester

"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)

Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean. A gifted storyteller and consummate historian, Winchester sets the great blue sea's epic narrative against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution, telling not only the story of an ocean, but the story of civilization. Fans of Winchester's Krakatoa, The Man Who Loved China, and The Professor and the Madman will love this masterful, penetrating, and resonant tale of humanity finding its way across the ocean of history.

Download Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories epub
ISBN: 006200249X
ISBN13: 978-0062002495
Category: History
Subcategory: World
Author: Simon Winchester
Language: English
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Larger Print edition (November 23, 2010)
Pages: 696 pages
ePUB size: 1494 kb
FB2 size: 1740 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 482
Other Formats: lrf azw lit txt

In my lifetime, the number of books I have failed to finish number less than the fingers of one hand. Ones where I skip large sections are even fewer.

I almost did not finish this book! Early on Winchester gets bogged down in lengthy, over detailed, uninteresting commentary about the Atlantic and the arts. YAWN! I also was a bit put off by his "show off intellectualism" by insisting on throwing in $10,000 words for no good reason. Being a retired journalist, I never used them with an audience ... so I wonder if he did when he was supposedly a journalist.

Having said that, after skipping that major section, Winchester redeemed himself when he started examining the early explorers of the Atlantic, and he continued an intriquing account from that point until the final pages of the book.
"One cannot but hang one's head in shame and abject frustration. We pollute the sea, we plunder the sea, we disdain the sea, we dishonor the sea that appears like a mere expanse of hammered pewter as we fly over it in our air-polluting planes--forgetting or ignoring all the while that the sea is the source of all the life on earth, the wellspring of us all."
That environmental theme pops up quite a bit in the narrative of Simon Winchester's "Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories."
Winchester set out to write a book explaining all there is to know about the Atlantic, which he considers to be our most important ocean. An overwhelming task and one might doubt it's even possible. He may not have succeeded in his initial goal but he comes as close as anyone in writing a biography of our ocean.
He explains how the ocean was born, how people living on its shores reacted to it and how, most importantly, it has influenced the development of the civilized world. To do this, he tells tales of man's first attempts to go out on the water, pirates, naval battles, the development of sea-going commerce and other topics. He also includes numerous anecdotes from his personal experience with the ocean.
He fears for our future if we don't change and start treating our environment like a home and not a garbage pit.
I'm not opposed to space exploration. It has resulted in many benefits for mankind. Still, I wish just a portion of the money and the interest could be directed toward oceanography. This is the planet on which we live. I have no desire to go live on a barren rock where there's no other forms of life.
Normally I would not comment on typos or proof-reading errors in a book, but my Kindle edition of this book (bought in June, 2018) abounds in them. Some pages have several errors. After a while the errors intrude on the reading experience. Turning out sloppy work is an insult to the reader who pays over $9 for the book – especially a book by a respected author and journalist who has written over 20 books, quite a few of which I have read and enjoyed.

Hyphenation and the use of ‘m-dashes’ is confused, inconsistent and idiosyncratic. Some of these errors are the inevitable result of the way Kindle breaks up words to suit different reading devices, but most are the result of bad (or non-existent) proof-reading of the Kindle edition. Hurricane Katrina appears mid-sentence as Ka-trina, as does the Nether-land ‘s (with space as shown) instead of the Netherlands. On one page the minute marine organism Prochlorococcus is spelt Pro-chlorcoccus and as Prochlo-rococcus in mid-sentence. There is ‘Ayoung researcher’ instead of ‘A young researcher’. There is the phrase ‘do-ingterrible damage’ - you can work out what is intended, but why should the reader do the job of the editor?

Italics are used in a weird way. Some text that should be in italics is not, and conversely. For example, years are sometimes in italic, sometimes not. One word of a related two-word phrase might be in italic, the other not.

The book is padded with lengthy quotes. Bizarrely, they are all centre-justified. Some are double spaced as well. A couple of short quotes are in fonts that don’t match the style of the text – probably an error and not a stylistic choice.

Paragraphs are spaced and have the first line indented. Either style is acceptable but not both together. Printed books conventionally have first-line indents but no space between paragraphs, while electronic text often has space between paragraphs and no indents.

Many of the footnotes are irritatingly trivial or marginally relevant at best. Probably one-third of the 90+ footnotes should be culled.

The author used Shakespeare’s ‘The Seven Ages of Man’ from ‘As You Like It’ to structure his book, which is quite a useful approach when discussing the Atlantic Ocean from its origins to its ultimate demise. Unfortunately, a couple of the chapters are excessively padded to fit the structure. In Chapter 3, the author goes on and on about literature and art works, which supposedly relate in some way to the Atlantic, but the discussion wanders down marginally relevant byways that are far from the central theme of the chapter.

The quality of the writing is highly variable, ranging from lyrical excellence at Winchester’s best and sinking into a morass of rambling text at its worst. Winchester can be excessively preachy at times and self-indulgent at others. That’s largely a matter of taste, not necessarily a defect of the book.

In summary, I cannot recommend my Kindle edition in its present state. It is a great pity, because Winchester has a good story to tell and often tells it compellingly.

I have not read the print edition. Possibly it is free from the technical defects that ruin the Kindle edition, which should be withdrawn from sale, edited and properly proof-read.
Simon Winchester consistently scores with all-embracing histories. In "Atlantic" his passion for this most grand of all the oceans is readily apparent. He crafts the tale with not only knowledge and wit, but with a palpable love that bursts through the entire narrative. Highly informative with photos throughout, lovers of both historical yarns and solid research should find this work both satisfying and enlightening.