Biographers usually choose to profile people. Simon Winchester is taking on the Atlantic Ocean. Applying Shakespeare’s seven stages of life—infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon, and second childhood—to his subject, the New York Times bestselling author chronicles the life and times of a massively important body of water in his latest book. From its geographical origins 370 million years ago to humankind’s regard for it—from the Europeans’ initial fear of the impenetrable barrier to their embrace of it as a bridge spanning old and new worlds and ushering back immense wealth, to a battlefield of power struggles—the Atlantic has earned its place, Winchester argues, as the axis of Western civilization. Now threatened by overfishing, greed and pollution, and overlooked as a primary means of transportation or communication, the Atlantic bares its soul through Winchester’s tapestry of history, science, folklore and memory.
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