Just the smallest sampling from the Boston Athenæum’s special collections holdings provides a glimpse of the western world’s centuries-long fascination with the geography and cultures of the Pacific. The collections include: Jan Jansson’s mid 17th-century map Mar del zvr Hispanis Mare Pacificum which depicts the west coast of Central and South America to the Straits of Anian; James Cook’s Voyage to the Pacific Ocean published in 1784; Frederick William Beechey’s Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait [sic] from 1831; J.E. Partington’s Ethnographical Album of the Pacific Islands published in 1892; Will Sabin’s 1921 Hawaii U.S.A.: A Souvenir of “The Crossroads of the Pacific”; and the Book Club of California’s Pacific Adventures, “a series of six narratives of early exploration of the Pacific area, to be issued bi-monthly during 1940s.”
Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers offers the contemporary reader the fascinating story of today’s ocean through a series of journeys both in geography and in time. Pacific is a rich and sprawling account of what author Simon Winchester calls the inland sea of the world’s tomorrow. With his trademark blend of history, geography, natural science, and keen observations, Winchester offers an expansive narrative that taps the cumulative power of a lifetime’s worth of travel, research, and reportage.
Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.