The Atlantic: A History of an Ocean

The Atlantic: A History of an Ocean

The Atlantic: A History of an Ocean

The Atlantic: A History of an Ocean

Excerpt

A NOVELIST may employ many devices of art and skill in capturing the interest of a reader. The historian has no such choice. At the very beginning the reader of a book of fact has the right to demand, and the author a duty to supply, a plain statement about the book.

This, then, is a book about the Atlantic Ocean. It is a book that attempts to gather within its covers the main facts about this ocean: its place in the world of nature and of man; how this ocean was discovered and used by early adventurers and explorers; who sailed upon it in times past; what were their purposes; what ships did they use; where did they mean to go and where did they actually land; how did the ocean itself affect their travels; how did trade develop and conflicts of interest arise all about this broad water; what societies have grown up around the Atlantic shores; what nations have arisen; what are their present prospects and their future hopes?

It appears that an attempt to organize the available information on these points and a number of others and to set it forth in an orderly account must, so far as it succeeds, be reckoned a history of an ocean.

It was with some surprise and more than a little timidity that I realized some time ago that I was writing a history of the Atlantic. Confirmed and settled landsmen express surprise that an ocean could have a history. Having little experience with it they think of the ocean as uniform and inactive and as playing little part in human experience. As one who knows and loves the ocean my surprise was . . .

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