The Sea: Nature and Culture

Richard Hamblyn. Reaktion, $24.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-78914-487-1
Historian Hamblyn (Terra) takes readers on a satisfying if episodic tour of the world’s waters, focusing on the spirit of the sea and the meaning it has taken on in societies for millennia. Drawing on both science and art, he quotes poetry alongside technical descriptions of hydrographic sounding and cites thinkers as varied as Benjamin Franklin, who studied marine symbiosis; Katsushika Hokusai, an artist who used wave motifs; and Jane Austen, who referenced sea breezes. Among the many topics touched upon are changes in beach culture, shipwreck protocol in 1275, trophic asynchronies (when interacting species experience changes in their life-cycles), sea-inspired symphonies, the dark zone 6,560 feet below the ocean’s surface, connected currents, and found messages in bottles. Hamblyn takes a particular interest in English etymologies (the Old English word for “high tide” referred to festival days and also gave people the word “tidy”), and becomes most impassioned when delivering a stark warning on deep-sea trawling, toxic pollutants, and ocean acidification. He does justice to the ocean’s vast and mysterious nature, though some readers may wish Hamblyn stretched his net further as his scope remains mostly Western. Still, this pleasant and edifying study will be a nice place to start for readers looking to learn more about the ocean. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/14/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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