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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
The Sea Inside
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 27 August 2013
This is such a difficult book to quantify; it is not all about the sea; just a series of anecdotes, stories, histories and tales that are in some way or other linked to the sea. His main philosophy here is that we are all derived from the sea, and are still made from water, and he quotes Arthur C Clarke, who says that the third planet from the Sun would have been more aptly named Sea, rather than Earth.

The interaction with the sea has defined this island, and what Hoare does is weave his daily interaction with the sea and landscape around Southampton with stories of people, creatures, history, mythology and the future of the ocean environment. The stories are in no particular order, and are loosely linked, in a meandering sort of way. He is a big advocate for the natural world, whales and dolphins in particular, and recounts his swimming with several types of them.

It is such a difficult book to categorise, in some ways it reminds me of the meanders of a river, and it is not focused in the way that Levathian was. That said the writing is exquisite at times, and he conveys his emotions and feeling for a huge passion of his.
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on 8 April 2017
As others have noted this book cannot easily be categorised. Part quirky memoir, part nature writing seeded with literary anecdotes, local history and curious links, for example Julia Margaret Cameron connecting the photographing of Tennyson on the Isle of Wight with her final years in Sri Lanka.

It is very well written. Hoare's style is clear, conversational and unfussy and yet always enticing. I have never been to the Azores or Sri Lanka but I can test his experiences on the shores of Sholing and around Netley. I live in Southampton and know well the strange wilderness on the foreshore set against the backdrop of the gas flares from the Fawley oil refinery and the detritus from passing shipping. He captures this superbly well although I would not be tempted to swim there voluntarily having fallen out of a few boats sailing out of Western.

My other point of reference is Tasmania. As an Australian I can vouch for his description of the rather grim port city of Hobart with its strange contrast of fishing trawlers and a 21st c Tate Modern style art gallery. He captures well the extraordinary contrast of the wild shoreline and the bizarre almost suburban model prison at Port Arthur. Is there a stranger place to find a Victorian park complete with band stand?

Hoare's real strength is his compelling description of various forms of Cetacea. He writes with real authority as readers of Leviathan will know. His accounts of swimming with dolphins and whales are compelling and for this alone I would recommend this book.

Hoare is an exceptionally original writer with great range and depth of knowledge. He shares some of the terrain with authors such as Robert Macfarlane and Roger Deakin but he has his own voice and is worth re-reading. The next time I walk the shoreline out of Southampton I will look out for him and will gladly hold his towel but I'd need stronger arguments than his before joining him in the brown murky slush of the Solent!
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on 20 June 2015
One of the most interesting books I've read, it makes me just want to travel around the coast of the UK. It reveals such amazing facts about where I live and what happened in history, it's never boring and it has a great atmosphere of sea stories.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 June 2013
Philip Hoares's latest book is a labour of love. From early words 'The sea defines us, connects us, separates us', he embarks on an adventure that takes us from his home near Southampton to London and then faraway destinations of Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and The Azores. His journey is written with passion, fascination and intimate knowledge of his subject. His narrative is wrapped in poetical prose with references to scientists, adventurers, indigenous populations, human and animal and the everpresent and ongoing threat to their survival. The author imparts a portrait of the beauty and alluring attraction of the sea and it's environment. 'No chart presents the reality of it's greatest ocean', he writes, with the oceans covering two thirds of the Earth's surface.

Philip Hoare has once again written a personalised and charming account of his marvellous pursuit of the glories of the sea and it's surroundings with illustrations. Reading it is an exhilarating experience, impossible not to be embraced within the fire of the author; but at times I am glad to be on 'terra firma'.
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on 29 July 2013
We are 50% water - `we all contain the sea inside us' - and evolution shows that life on earth originally crawled out of the sea. But there is a theory that human beings may have emerged out of the ocean more recently than other life-forms. We still have vestigial webbed feet and fingers, almost the same ratio of fat to body mass as a dolphin, a natural instinct to hold our breath under water, and other adaptations that suggest a close connection with the mammals who live in the watery elements. Was our ancestor a `watery ape'?

Our relationship with the sea fascinates Philip Hoare, who swims in it every day, often before dawn, and in every type of weather. `The Sea Inside' is a series of meditations on its mythologies, its biological and chemical complexity, its influence on our climate, and the importance of the oceanic eco-systems to our own survival. `The sea defines us,' he writes, `connects us, separates us. Most of us experience only its edges, our available wilderness on a crowded island'.

Philip Hoare lives in these edgelands, on the fringes of the city of Southampton. `I didn't choose to; it chose me. I might have found a more picturesque place, wild and romantic or urban and exciting; the kind of places people pass through here to reach. A port city relies on its relationship to elsewhere. Perhaps that's why I like it so well, since it does not impose any identity on me'. Living there, he is more aware than most of the dangerous foundations we have built our civilisation on. When he cycles to the shore every morning, he passes a forest of industrial installations; `tapering spires for a new place of worship; circular tanks as giant igloos... silos like newly-landed space ships ... There's no human scale to this petropolis ... it is brutal, practical, inevitable.'

In the book the author travels the world to swim with whales and record the sad history of human depredation. We are not being kind to the ocean, but we need to change our ways, because our own salvation is carried in its deepest currents.

This is a thoughtful, moving book, as you'd expect from the author of Leviathan - Philip Hoare also lectures in creative non-fiction - not quite in the same league, but beautifully written - haunting.
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on 29 July 2013
I love this book in so many ways! I love the fact that it's hardback and has beautiful drawings and interesting illustrations as part of wonderfully written narrative about the sea and it's many aspects. It makes for a stimulating and relaxing read.
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on 9 May 2014
This is the best meandering factual prose I've ever read. Every page is a delight, so full of interest., an incredible number of strands drawn together.. it be read and reread many times
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on 12 January 2014
If you like a book that takes you to a real and current place and time and gives you observation to reflect on this will do it.
I'm already looking forward to re-reading.
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on 11 August 2014
i read this with an enormous amount of pleasure - joy floats off every page, a beautiful meander through curiosity and the sea
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on 10 August 2014
This book was much appreciated by my brother who lives by the sea, loves all its aspects and spends a lot of time in boats
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