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Great Sea Stories

Various

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .er her, and it was evident she was not a man-of-war. We peppered away—she could not even be a privateer; we were close under her lee quarter, and yet she had never fired a shot; and her large swaggering Yankee ensign was now run up to the peak, only to be hauled down the next moment. Hurrah! a large cotton-ship from Charlestown to Bordeaux—prize to H.M.S. Torch!

She was taken possession of, and proved to be the Natches, of four hundred tons burden, fully loaded with cotton.

By the time we got the crew on board, and the second-lieutenant, with a prize crew of fifteen men, had taken charge, the weather began to lour again, nevertheless we took the prize in tow, and continued on our voyage for the next three days, without anything particular happening. It was the middle watch, and I was sound asleep, when I was startled by a violent jerking of my hammock, and a cry "that the brig was amongst the breakers." I ran on deck in my shirt, w. . . Read More

Community Reviews

As a fan of historical nautical books like Seawolves and Barrow's Boys, and of Golding's Ends of the Earth series, I started this book figuratively rubbing my hands in anticipation of some great sea stories and novel science facts to quote to people down the pub. But after about 70 pages I couldn...more

I never managed to get into this book. I think the scope was too broad and the smaller sub-topics were too brief and shallow to make for an interesting read. There is no cohesion to the book and Winchester bounces around from topic to topic, interspersing them with personal stories tangentially r...more

Part science, part history, this ambitious non-fiction includes almost every aspect of the Atlantic Ocean. It covers a diverse array of topics such as its origins, discovery of the gulf stream, early inventions for maritime navigation, explorations, famous shipwrecks, piracy, the slave trade, mar...more

Un gran bel saggio, direi quasi una biografia dell’Oceano Atlantico, che ci dà informazioni scientifiche e ci parla del suo rapporto con gli uomini attraverso una miriade di episodi: chi ne aveva terrore, chi ci navigò su minuscole imbarcazioni, chi lo attraversò senza saperlo e chi lo attraversò...more

This “biography” of the Atlantic ocean is not a straightforward, objective history, not even trying to be. The tone of the book was a bit surprising: how dreamy and abstract Winchester’s attitude towards the Atlantic is! He opens with a journey he once took from England to Montreal by ship, and a...more

I can't be objective about this guy. I listened to this as a talking book - and I just love this guy's voice. I could listen to him reading the telephone directory and still be fascinated. This is a 'let me tell you everything I know about the Atlantic' kind of book. He tries to give it a structu...more

This “biography” of the Atlantic strives with impossible ambition to paint a picture of the role of the Atlantic Ocean over all of human history using Shakespeare’s scheme of the Seven Ages of Man. A bit of a poetic stretch but ultimately a practical way of framing all the scientific and cultural...more

Oh, dear, Simon Winchester, I think you have to stop being my literary boyfriend now. Someone get this man an editor, quickly. I've never skipped over so many pages of a book before.

It's not that he hasn't dug up fascinating facts and interesting tidbits. It's just that it feels like he took all...more

This is a very enjoyable book; it covers many aspects of the Atlantic Ocean. The book describes its formation and its ultimate end, exploration, the use of the ocean for commerce, for food, for battles, and the inspiration the ocean has for literature, art and music. And of course, the book conta...more

Using as his central pillar a Shakespearean monologue from As You Like It that lists the seven stages of a man’s life, Simon Winchester offers us the life of an ocean.

He covers a very wide swath in his examination of that very un-pacific Atlantic. Beginning with big-picture geology, he looks at...more

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