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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge subject admirably dealt with
Simon Winchester adds to his growing ouevre and reputation with this enthralling and fascinating book. What could have been a daunting read is made simple and enjoyable by the author's chatty and good humoured style - you get the impression that he would be a fine companion over a pint or two. This is not just a geographic study though. Historical and social aspects of...
Published on 3 Oct 2010 by Big Jim

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bobbing around in the doldrums
If you're anticipating something akin to Mark Kurlansky's "Cod" or "Salt" you might well be somewhat disappointed by Atlantic.
In Simon Winchester's favour, he is erudite, informed, and wherever it is he writes about, he has been there and seen for himself. But he's much harder work for the reader. One minute you're storming along with the wind in your sails, and...
Published on 19 April 2011 by Leabhar


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4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasingly typical Winchester epic, 8 Nov 2012
By 
Steve Mansfield (High Peak, Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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Simon Winchester shows his usual thorough research and storytelling skills in 'Atlantic'. Covering (amongst other things) plate tectonics, history, politics, navigation, fish stocks, oceanography, and the beginning and end of the world, Winchester enthrals and educates.

With at least one fascinating fact on every page whilst rarely lecturing or didactic, this is a worthy addition to Winchester's work.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Typesetting clangers, 27 Oct 2012
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Breezy, informed, thought-provoking, revealing, wide-ranging....all of this applies to this fascinating if chaotic read, opening up a world of unvisited watery straits and shores. Recommended for all frustrated desk-bound explorers just like me.

There is one major criticism though, and nothing to do with Winchester: the sheer sloppiness of the copy-editing and proof-reading. A mis-placed comma here or there never bothers me usually, but the typesetting in this edition is at times simply all over the place: transposed phrases, dropped punctuation marks, words split in half across two lines etc etc. Call me pendantic but this stuff is really annoying. Come on Harper Press, your authors deserve better than this (not to mention those of us shelling out ten quid for a copy).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Plain sailing, 30 Sep 2012
I usually enjoy Winchester's books, the esoteric fact-filled pages, leaping hither and yon from one subject or academic discipline to the next, giving food for thought for hours after, but somehow this book was less than fulfilling.

I don't know why, it just seemed as if the author was phoning it in this time and despite the satisfying chunkiness of the edition I bought the big widespaced type-setting soon revealed that it was a somewhat thinner volume than I had expected.

It would pass a long transatlatic journey if you started reading it after you checked in at Heathrow and finished it off the night you booked into your hotel in New York. It wouldn't leave much of an imprint on you the next morning however.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a splash!, 18 Sep 2012
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It might be full of an exhaustive amount of information and bursting with facts, but its a great read...well worth the effort. Anyone who is interested in where our planet might end up should read this. Fascinating!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Jump into the Atlantic, 22 Jun 2012
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I actually found this book quite interesting. There are a lot of things to like about Simon Winchester's "Atlantic." First off, the structure of the book is quite creative. Winchester has adapted the "All the world's a stage" speech from Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Each of Shakespeare's seven stages of a man's life, from infant until second childishness, is used to examine the stages in the life of the ocean. We see the ocean born and eventually die, just as a man does. And we see all its stages in between, as man discovers, explores, interprets, uses and then misuses this grand ocean we call the Atlantic.

Second, Winchester's ocean really is "a vast ocean of a million stories," and most of them are fascinating. While I enjoyed the historical chapters, more than the geological ones, Winchester has put together a book that covers nearly every aspect of interest. I was amazed to see that so much of our modern world today has grown and developed in and around the Atlantic Ocean. I did not know, for example, the "hidden story" of the eventual creation of the State of Israel. The Royal Navy's need for acetone led Chaim Weizmann, who had developed a special technique to create the substance, to come into favour with such figures as the future Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his foreign secretary Arthur Balfour. The rest of course is history and we all know how important the Balfour Declaration was in Israel's eventual independence. But "Atlantic" is filled with such stories.

Third, Winchester is just a great writer and knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. I was endlessly amazed at all the things he's done and the places he's been. He can turn what one might think a very dull matter into a truly exciting read (for example hisThe Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English DictionaryWho would think a dictionary could be so interesting?)

Fourth, I liked that he tried to be objective in his coverage of climate change and other environmental issues, showing both sides of the matter. No matter where you stand politically on some of these questions, it is hard not to see that man is doing some damage to the ocean, although much of the change may be natural.

The one thing I noticed, however, was that the book could have used a better proofreader. Winchester is clearly an intellect, and so it was unfortunate that there were quite a few mistakes (additional words or spelling mistakes, for example) that took away from the polished finish.

All in all, however, I would definitely recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars atlantic, 12 May 2012
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This review is from: Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories (Kindle Edition)
wonderful writing, tremendous depth of research goes into Simon Winchester's books, and he produces a work of art that draws you in and which you can't put down.

Janda
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3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading..., 17 April 2012
By 
C. D. Nash (Nr Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories (Kindle Edition)
..but not Simon Winchester's best. Well-written and constructed in the author's very capable style and often illuminating, but at times I felt the author was searching for material in order to pad out the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 13 Dec 2011
Although some chapters are written better than others, none is less than highly readable and well informed. A subtle layer of humour pervades the work, intentionally I suspect, and for example the extraordinary hydrological institute in Monte Carlo may warrant the attention given to it more for its decadent charm than for its real contribution to oceanographic knowledge. The many footnotes are endlessly fascinating, and the main text often throws a new light on what might be familiar matters, for example quoting the original weather forecast for Hurricane Katrina, which predicted a storm even more cataclysmic than what eventuated.

The overall impression is of an eclectic but thoroughly researched body of information written by a person who truly understands the material and is able to communicate his enthusiasm.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A patchy narrative, 15 July 2011
By 
David Gordon (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
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This is an interesting read, but many points are stretched almost to breaking point. The most tenuous connections to the Atlantic Ocean are exploited, and there are longueurs. Also, there are too many factual errors: Weizmann was not a professor in Manchester, the Danish royal family does not live in the Christiansborg, and so on. Not Winchester's best.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big Ocean, Big Book, 8 Jan 2011
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
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The Atlantic ocean is a large body of water and Atlantic by Simon Winchester is similarly large - it runs to over 400 pages of a large format paper back. The material is arranged around a series of themes that basically follow the maturing of the human relationship to the ocean. Early childhood toe dipping at the start, adolescent exploration and such like.

As a way of organising such a huge body of stories I can see the logic of this structure - it's as much a narrative of the changing relationship of human to the world in general as it is to the ocean itself. However, because of the authors decision use such a structure and to use rather florid chapter titles, it becomes increasing difficult to actually anticipate what a given chapter may be about - and given that this is a factual book rather than a detective novel, I think I would have preferred a few more clues as to what lay ahead. While the book does contain a comprehensive index , I would have like to have been able to "cherry pick" some of the areas I knew would interest me, rather than sail through each chapter.

This thought brings me to my key issue with the book: the Atlantic itself probably has many areas that are rather dull, and you probably sail through or over them just to get to somewhere else. This book seems a little like that as well. The sections on the exploitation of shell fish for purple dye, the development of some naval tactics and technology and the complete hash that was made of the management of the cod resources are excellent, but I cannot say the same thing for the rest of the book. This may of course be due to my own interests rather than the book, but it did feel rather patchy. Equally, I did find it difficult to understand the necessity of repeatedly pointing out (and rather overstating if you ask me) the lack of consensus on climate change - at times the author seemed to be making sure that any climate change sceptics that happened to be reading the book would continue to do so, rather than reflecting the supposed variety of opinion of the science community.

But one of the things I found most difficult was a reference to the "romance" of the Falklands stirring old sailors for years to come. I assume many people are stirred by memories of that war, but I doubt that many memories have much romance attached to them.

This is a patchy book, with some excellent sections, but I think the scope is too large and its structure too vague. Winchester has written some really excellent books, but I don't think this one is up to his normal standard.
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