Reviews of Pacific by Simon Winchester

Pacific

Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers

by Simon Winchester

Pacific by Simon Winchester X
Pacific by Simon Winchester
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 512 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2016, 512 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Pacific is a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives.

As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. With China on the rise, so, too, are the American cities of the West coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, and the long cluster of towns down the Silicon Valley.

Today, the Pacific is ascendant. Its geological history has long transformed us - tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis - but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan's sixteenth-century circumnavigation. It is a natural wonder whose most fascinating history is currently being made.

In telling the story of the Pacific, Simon Winchester takes us from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to the many small islands and archipelagos that lie in between. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego, the land at the end of the world. His journey encompasses a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, a trek across South Korea and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor.

Winchester's personal experience is vast and his storytelling second to none. And his historical understanding of the region is formidable, making Pacific a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives.

Excerpt
Pacific

The Pacific is an oceanic behemoth of eye-watering complexity. A near-limitless range of human and natural conditions exists within its borders, as one would expect of something so unimaginably enormous. Arthur C. Clarke once remarked, with droll prescience, that a space traveler, upon seeing our planet, would say that calling it Earth was a grave misnomer, since most of it is so obviously Sea. He must surely have been thinking of the Pacific, since its blue expanse entirely dominates the planet.

Its dimensions are staggering. It occupies almost one entire hemisphere. Looking westward, from Panama, and from where Balboa stood on his high peak in the Isthmus of Darién, across to the first encountered landmass of the eastern Malaysian coast, there are more than 10,600 miles of uninterrupted sea. From north to south, from the fogs and shivering waters of the Bering Strait down to the ice cliffs of Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, is nearly nine thousand miles. The ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The result is not so much a coherent, start-to-finish history of a region as it is a series of fascinating snapshots that when put together forms a broad picture of it. It's not complete by any means, but it does move the reader toward a deeper understanding of the important part the Pacific has played in humanity's recent past and the role it's destined to play...continued

Full Review (689 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Library Journal
Sure to appeal to history buffs or anyone in search of a pleasure read with surprising moral heft and geopolitical insight.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A series of high-resolution literary snapshots. ... As we've come to expect from Winchester, there are plenty of delights. ... Winchester's passionate research... undergirds this superb analysis of a world wonder.

Publishers Weekly
Winchester's vigorous prose and tireless dragnetting of interesting lore make this an entertaining read.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Hokule'a

In Pacific, author Simon Winchester closes with the image of the vessel Hokule'a, which he views as a symbol of hope for the people of the Pacific Islands and a physical manifestation of a return of respect for indigenous traditions.

The Hokule'a is built in the tradition of the ancient Hawaiian double-hulled voyaging canoe known as wa'a kaulua. Its name, which means "Star of Gladness," is what Hawaiians call the star, Arcturus. Since the Hokule'a's launch from O'ahu on March 8, 1975, the ship has sailed over 140,000 nautical miles using only native navigational techniques (more on this below).

In 1973 a group of Polynesian specialists and canoe enthusiasts formed the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Their objective at the time was to ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Simon Winchester

If you liked Pacific, try these:

  • The Vortex jacket

    The Vortex

    by Scott Carney , Jason Miklian

    Published 2023

    About this book

    The deadliest storm in modern history ripped Pakistan in two and led the world to the brink of nuclear war when American and Soviet forces converged in the Bay of Bengal.

  • The Brilliant Abyss jacket

    The Brilliant Abyss

    by Helen Scales

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    "The oceans have always shaped human lives," writes marine biologist Helen Scales in her vibrant new book The Brilliant Abyss, but the surface and the very edges have so far mattered the most. "However, one way or another, the future ocean is the deep ocean."

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The War Librarian
    by Addison Armstrong
    Emmaline Balakin believes in the power of the written word — books have changed her life. When...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Goose
    The Book of Goose
    by Yiyun Li
    Yiyun Li's The Book of Goose is a story of childhood friendship between narrator Agnès, a one-...
  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
The engrossing epic novel - a #1 bestseller in Norway - of a young woman whose fate plays out against her village's mystical church bells.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, the inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

G R T Bad R

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.