Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Book Recommendations on the Pacific

Here are two new books you may like to explore. One looks forward to the future of the Pacific and one looks back to its past.
Pacific : the ocean of the future / Simon Winchester.
Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

The beach : an Australian passion / Robert Drewe.
From an Indigenous food source to a hedonistic playground, the beach has long been a national obsession. Robert Drewe's lyrical examination of Australian beach culture, in this new National Library of Australia publication, combines imagery from some of Australia's most celebrated photographers with his stories - a favourite boat, a capsicum-strewn beach, a summer holiday and an unwelcome great white. Drewe looks at the sunny, salty sexiness of the beach that first enticed the crusading Mr William Gocher into the ocean at Manly in 1903, defying authorities in his neck-to-knee bathing costume. We've come a long way from sunbathing in stockings and pantaloons to the unabashed display of sun-kissed bodies of all shapes and sizes at any beach in the country today. But the beach also has a dark side as a place of tragedy, violence and danger, a place where sharks attack prone surfers and prime ministers disappear. In The Beach, Drewe turns his attention to the favourite coastal theme, but in a new way: a mix of history, reminiscence and lyrical description, complemented by photographs from the National Library of Australia's collection.

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