Atlantic by Simon Winchester is another non-fiction book from the author of Krakatoa, The Map that Changed the WorldBomb, Book and Compass and The Surgeon of Crowthorne.

The book covers the Atlantic from geological, historic, economic, social and environmental perspectives. Winchester is a really excellent writer. He also researches his material thoroughly. For the best of his book, such as The Surgeon of Crowthorne and Bomb, Book and Compass he doesn’t need to try to tie diverse material together. In Atlantic, however, the subject is taken from so many angles that the book is more a collection of long essays rather than a book driven by a person or an idea.

The essays are interesting. Winchester fills them with well selected, intriguing material. It is strange to think, for example, that the Atlantic, while always there, was not something people conceptualized until they had found the Americas as there was no other known that contained the sea.

The bulk of the book covers the history of the discoveries of the Americas by the Vikings and the Spanish, the exploration of the sea and the surrounding countries, the wars fought over it and the rise of technology in the form of the telegraph cables laid under the Atlantic, the containers taken over it and the flights of today.

It’s not one of Winchester’s best books but it is, as all his books are, well worth reading.


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