Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atlantic - Simon Winchester (Audio)

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  
       

10 comments:

Beth F said...

Oh I'm so glad you gave this a chance! And yes, some parts are definitely more interesting than others. But his voice! Yes, I wish he did narration professionally.

caite said...

actually, this sounds like something I would love!

Jackie Bailey said...

I've been wanting to read a Simon Winchester for a long time, but I haven't heard of this one. I actually think I'd like this a lot more than you did. All those environmental facts interest me as much as they scare me.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Sounds really interesting. Any mention of the Portuguese?

bermudaonion said...

I would probably do better with this in print since I don't read a lot of nonfiction.

Zibilee said...

This sounds like something that I might like, and though bits of it are heavy handed, I am intrigued that there is so much to learn in this one. I also like that the library has it, and that it is read by a really good narrator. Excellent choice for me. Thanks for the very clear and inveigling review.

wordsandpeace.com said...

yes! this was so good, I enjoyed very much this audio last year.

Jenny said...

I'm pretty sure I could not get through an entire book about the Atlantic Ocean, lol, but sounds like you did learn a lot and I definitely have moments of wanting to read something like that as well!

Kathleen said...

I love hearing Simon Winchester speak. I've tried reading his books but just couldn't get through them. I've had good luck with him on audio though and will have to look out for this one, I haven't heard of it before!

Julie P. said...

I won't swear to this, but I think this is one that my dad didn't love. It's interesting to note that the author is both a skilled writer and presenter.