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Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores-whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south-the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast. The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters-all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. Simon Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth's geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring.
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of periodicals. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected - and most popular - of its kind.
There's a crack in the earth's crust that runs roughly 31 miles offshore, approximately 683 miles from northern California up through Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has generated massive earthquakes over and over again throughout geologic time-at least 36 major events in the last 10,000 years. This fault generates a monster earthquake about every 500 years. And the monster is due to return at any time. It could happen 200 years from now, or it could be tonight. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is virtually identical to the offshore fault that wrecked Sumatra in 2004. It will generate the same earthquake we saw in Sumatra, at magnitude 9 or higher, sending crippling shockwaves across a far wider area than any California quake. Slamming into Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, it will send tidal waves to the shores of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, damaging the economies of the Pacific Rim countries and their trading partners for years to come. In light of recent massive quakes in Haiti, Chile, and Mexico, Cascadia's Fault not only tells the story of this potentially devastating earthquake and the tsunamis it will spawn, it also warns us about the impending crisis almost unprecedented in modern history.
A burgeoning new city is built on the dreams of the American gold rush. It is also built upon a landscape that has been stretching, sliding and breaking apart for millennia. In 1906 the dreams of this city came crashing down beneath the rippling wave of a horrifying earthquake that turned roads into great rippling rivers, that set buildings ablaze for days on end, that made homes collapse upon themselves. Simon Winchester's breathtaking story delves deep beneath the surface of the earth and explains to us why the world moves as it does; and breaks apart with such devastating results. At the same time he never lets us forget the human story: what happened in this new, seemingly blessed city on the 18th April 1906. As he vividly portrays the lives of the people who suffered and survived the devastation he also tells a universal story: the hubris of man as he ignores the warnings of nature and how we respond and try to understand the world around us. Compelling, moving and enlightening, Simon Winchester brings to light the world beneath our feet and through the story of this one terrifying event one hundred years ago, begins to make sense of our world now.
A True Portrait of One of the World's Most Chaotic and Beautiful Regions That Explains Why Violence Has Always Occurred There--And Why It May Continue For Years To ComeThe vast and mountainous area that makes up the Balkans is rife with discord, both cultural and topographical. And, as Simon Winchester superbly demonstrates in this intimate portrait of the region, much of the political strife of the past century can be traced to its inherent contrasts. With the aid of a guide and linguist, Winchester traveled deep into the region's most troublesome areas--including Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Turkey--just as the war was tearing these countries apart. The result is a book not just about war but also about how war affects the living. Both timeless and current, The Fracture Zone goes behind the headlines to offer a true picture of a region that has always been on the brink. Winchester's remarkable journey puts all the elements together--the faults, the fractures, and the chaos--to make sense out of a seemingly senseless place.
In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea -- from its southern tip to the North Korean border -- in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land. Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia. With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester.
The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa -- the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster -- was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round the planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington, D. C. , went haywire. Bodies washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy by fundamentalist Muslims in Java: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic killings anywhere. Simon Winchester's long experience in world wandering, as well as his knowledge of history and geology, gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it tellingly back to life.
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman ("Elegant and scrupulous"-New York Times Book Review) and Krakatoa ("A mesmerizing page-turner"-Time) brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, long the world's most technologically advanced country. No cloistered don, this tall, married Englishman was a freethinking intellectual, who practiced nudism and was devoted to a quirky brand of folk dancing. In 1937, while working as a biochemist at Cambridge University, he instantly fell in love with a visiting Chinese student, with whom he began a lifelong affair. He soon became fascinated with China, and his mistress swiftly persuaded the ever-enthusiastic Needham to travel to her home country, where he embarked on a series of extraordinary expeditions to the farthest frontiers of this ancient empire. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind's most familiar innovations-including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper-often centuries before the rest of the world. His thrilling and dangerous journeys, vividly recreated by Winchester, took him across war-torn China to far-flung outposts, consolidating his deep admiration for the Chinese people. After the war, Needham was determined to tell the world what he had discovered, and began writing his majestic Science and Civilisation in China, describing the country's long and astonishing history of invention and technology. By the time he died, he had produced, essentially single-handedly, seventeen immense volumes, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopedist ever. Both epic and intimate, The Man Who Loved China tells the sweeping story of China through Needham's remarkable life. Here is an unforgettable tale of what makes men, nations, and, indeed, mankind itself great-related by one of the world's inimitable storytellers.
In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell--clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world--making it possible, for the first time ever, to draw a chart of the hidden underside of the earth. Smith spent twenty-two years piecing together the fragments of this unseen universe to create an epochal and remarkably beautiful hand-painted map. But instead of receiving accolades and honors, he ended up in debtors' prison, the victim of plagiarism, and virtually homeless for ten years more. The Map That Changed the World is a very human tale of endurance and achievement, of one man's dedication in the face of ruin. With a keen eye and thoughtful detail, Simon Winchester unfolds the poignant sacrifice behind this world-changing discovery.
It was on New Year's morning, 1928, that an eruption of mad lexical glee from a battered old typewriter on a desk in Baltimore from the hands of Henry Louis Mencken sent news all across the USA of the long-awaited publication of the book that was to crown the English language undisputed monarch of the linguistic kingdom. From the Oxford-based project a total of 414,825 words, ten times as many as had hitherto been suspected of existing, had now been recognized and catalogued, the results of seventy years of Herculean effort by scholars, linguists, and thousands of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people. "The Meaning of Everything" is a readily accessible historical account of the making of the remarkable Oxford English Dictionary, leading up to the appointment of the first editor, James Murray, in 1879 through to its triumphant publication in 1928 and beyond.
For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum--"Out of many, one"--has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become "one nation, indivisible"? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses these questions, bringing together the breathtaking achievements of those American pioneers who helped to forge and unify the new nation, and who toiled fearlessly to bond the citizens and geography of the United States from its very beginnings. This sweeping narrative details how these daring men, some famous, some forgotten, left their mark on America's natural landscapes, through courage, ingenuity, and hard work. Winchester follows the footsteps of America's most crucial innovators, thinkers, and explorers, from Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys of the West to the builders of the first transcontinental railroad and the curmudgeonly civil engineer who oversaw the creation of more than three million miles of highway. Winchester travels across vast swaths of the American landscape, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Seattle to Anchorage, Truckee to Laramie, using the five classical elements--Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal--to chart the contributions these adventurous leaders made to connect the diverse communities within the United States and ensure the future of the American project begun in 1776. The Men Who United the States is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope across time and open spaces, providing a new lens through which to view American history, led by one of our most gifted writers.
Simon Winchester, struck by a sudden need to discover exactly what was left of the British Empire, set out across the globe to visit the far-flung islands that are all that remain of what once made Britain great. He traveled 100,000 miles back and forth, from Antarctica to the Caribbean, from the Mediterranean to the Far East, to capture a last glint of imperial glory. His adventures in these distant and forgotten ends of the earth make compelling, often funny reading and tell a story most of us had thought was over: a tale of the last outposts in Britain's imperial career and those who keep the flag flying. With a new introduction, this updated edition tells us what has happened to these extraordinary places while the author's been away.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionaryby Simon Winchester
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.
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