This book is probably one of the oldest ones on my iPod...recommended to me by Beth Fish Reads almost two years ago. Her review inspired me to order the audio from the library, but then I lost interest quickly, probably because this is generally not my genre. But recently I had a hankering for some interesting facts and was also faced with an 8 hour drive that would offer a huge chunk of listening time, so viola!
Synopsis: Simon Winchester, a British journalist, broadcaster and traveler extraordinaire, has always had a love for the ocean. Only now, in his 60's, has he decided to share that love with the rest of the world. And he covers it all...from how the Atlantic was created, when the supercontinent broke apart and eventually settled into the Earth as we know it, to the state of the Atlantic today.
The range of topics is immense, but instead of going through it chronologically, he divides his material by topic. He covers early exploration, mass transportation "across the pond" (both by air and sea), wars waged on the Atlantic, great storms, and the inspiration is has provided poets and artists. He finishes on a less than positive note when he discusses the permanent depletion and extinction of some types of fish, of the pollution and the effects of global warming, and the outlook for our children and grandchildren.
My thoughts: While this was definitely not my usual fare, I found it fascinating. Some topics were more engrossing than others...I listened raptly about the early explorers and their amazing courage in conquering the unknown. But I found my mind wandering when I was working my way through the great battles on the seas. Overall, though, my expectations - learning more about something new - were met.
I did find his section about the deplorable state of the Atlantic's health...the over-fishing and pollution of the waters...to be a tiny bit heavy-handed. I totally understand that mankind is doing a wonderful job of ruining our natural resources in the Atlantic, and I'm horrified by it all. Florida residents have had their noses rubbed in some of these blunders, with BP's oil washing up on our beaches. But I felt bludgeoned by the end of this chapter, and it weighed me down. I felt like hanging my head and admitting that we all suck, and are on the highway to hell. And that is not how I want to feel at the end of a book. Nevertheless, it WAS a slap in the face and a reminder that we all need to check ourselves and do our part.
A few words about the audio production: Author narration is a slippery slope. Some do a phenomenal job (David Sedaris, Joshilyn Jackson) and others do not. Simon Winchester has a beautiful voice for narration, and I dare say he could do this for a living if he wanted.
Audiobook length: 14 hours and 30 minutes (512 pages)
3.5 out of 5 stars