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

Book - 2015
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One of Library Journal's 10 Best Books of 2015

Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature.

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.

Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper,, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9780062315410
Characteristics: xiv, 492 pages :,illustrations, maps


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IndyPL_SteveB Nov 16, 2018

For a broad perspective on the world, sometimes we need a writer who is a combination of world traveler, reporter, historian, storyteller, and geologist. Simon Winchester is one of the great non-fiction writers. *Pacific* focuses on the past 70 years on the largest ocean on Earth, with an amazing variety of cultures, languages, and people surrounding it and living in the middle of it. Winchester knew even with that limitation, he could write thousands of pages; but he finally settled on 10 basic subjects and events that, while seemingly unrelated, merge together to make you think about this part of the world in new ways.

Initially Winchester points out the irony that “The Far East” is on the west side of the Pacific and what we call “The West” is on the east side. He uses that as a jumping off point to show us that most of our perspectives as readers of English are from a single point of view – Western Europe. Learning to see the world through the points of view of East Asians and the Oceanic peoples can open our eyes to the unexpected. Winchester covers subjects as different as atomic bomb testing, Sony radios, surfing, cyclones, and floating plastic, all in fascinating fashion.

Jan 05, 2017


Nov 14, 2016

This comes from a huge fan of Winchester's other work, but Pacific was a bit of a disappointment. He seems to have bitten off more than he can comfortably chew. His formal solution is to tell ten shorter stories as emblems of larger issues in the history of this enormous region, but the choice does not play as well to his narrative strengths. Some chapters are completely skippable, and others leave the reader wanting a little more detail.

ArapahoeAnna Nov 06, 2016

Each chapter is a separate story of the Pacific, history, civilization, science, geography, and travel. You are sure to learn some new things about the Pacific Ocean, earth, climate, and humanity. The pictures are very interesting be sure to look at them if you listen to audio book which is well narrated by the author.

Sep 30, 2016

Mellifluous writing details a broad topic in the Pacific. Various historical stories revolving around the Pacific are told in this book with a look to the future potential conflict between China and the US. Well worth reading.

Aug 08, 2016

Pacific. --- by. --- Simon Winchester.
Winchesters books are patiently awaited and then keenly devoured. With his wide ranging interests and fields of attention he has written a collection of greatly varied books ranging from his interesting tome of the birth of Oxford English Dictionary to his more Geographic efforts such as "Atlantic" and now, the even more ambitious "Pacific".
This time Winchester has chosen as object of interest what is arguably the largest feature on the planet Earth, the Pacific Ocean. And audacious the topic may be, Winchester is, non the less, able to pull off this self-imposed task with his usual style and competence
Winchester's style is brisk and easily read, although there were a couple of occasions where I had to seek refuge in the OED (irony) in order to decipher the meaning. But then, that's how vocabulary is expanded.
This humble, grateful reader says to Mr Winchester: bravo! A job well done. We expected no less from you.

Nov 16, 2015

long excerpt in salon

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