Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world’s largest body of water, and – in matters economic, political and military – the ocean of the future.
The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future.
The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America – which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea – while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states – North Korea most notoriously today – suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world’s most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester’s thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.
‘Gripping … This might be his best [book] yet… Like all good writers, Winchester knows that specificity is all … stirring stuff. The variety of material is astonishing … As all good books must, this one shifts from the long-lens to the close-up shot, and from the tragic to the absurd' Literary Review
‘[Simon Winchester] is a terrific helmsman, both confident and smooth’ 4*, Daily Telegraph
Praise for Simon Winchester:
‘Winchester pioneered the genre of popular narrative history … [he] understands that specificity is what counts, as it always does in writing’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Simon Winchester is a literary impresario … This is a clever, engaging and original look at what would seem well-trodden historical paths; but Winchester, delightfully, breaks a fresh trail’ Economist
'Winchester unfolds this epic narrative with admirable simplicity: his prose style is conversational, and crackles with strange images. He marries even-handed scholarship with a gift for storytelling, neither dumbing down nor assuming any specific knowledge in his readership. This is from start to finish an enthralling book, and one that does justice to the magnitude of its subject' Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times
'Illuminating…a] wonderful, encyclopaedic book, pinpointing key moments in the narrative of an entire ocean and our relationship to it' Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph
About the author
Simon Winchester is the bestselling author of ‘Atlantic’, ‘The Man Who Loved China’, ‘A Crack in the Edge of the World’, ‘Krakatoa’, ‘The Map That Changed the World’, ‘The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ (’The Professor and the Madman’), ‘The Fracture Zone’, ‘Outposts’ and ‘Korea’, among many other titles. In 2006 he was awarded the OBE. He lives in western Massachusetts and New York City.