The Levelling Sea, By Philip Marsden


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As travel writer and narrative historian, Marsden has the knack of linking the local and the global, the near and the far. This book about his own watery backyard - Falmouth in Cornwall - follows the history of town and port.

It depicts the salty characters who turned a piratical hideaway into the bustling corner hub of an "Atlantic village".

First rogue gentry and buccaneers, then explorers, admirals and missionaries, put this marshy backwater on a world map. Lyric interludes traces the author's romance with the sea, a love "as powerful as any human attachment".

In its smartly-rigged history and biography, the book has the episodic charm of a voyage under sail.