Atlantic, By Simon Winchester

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The Independent Culture

A biography of the Atlantic Ocean loosely structured around Jacques' "seven ages of man" speech, this tells the story of the ocean's birth 190 million years ago, early voyages on it by the Phoenicians, then the Vikings, then the great European navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries, then its role as the "inland sea" of a Pan-Atlantic civilisation – and anticipates its eventual destruction some 180 million years hence. There are tales of shipwrecks, battles, explorations, migrations: a treasure-trove of stories, which brings home the immensity of this great, grey, heaving "confection of water and waves and wind, of animals and birds, of ships and man".