The Ocean Reader

History, Culture, Politics

Book Pages: 552 Illustrations: 82 illustrations, incl. 9 in color Published: January 2020

Cultural Studies > Ocean Studies, Environmental Studies, History > World History

From prehistoric times to the present, the Ocean has been used as a highway for trade, a source of food and resources, and a space for recreation and military conquest, as well as an inspiration for religion, culture, and the arts. The Ocean Reader charts humans' relationship to the Ocean, which has often been seen as a changeless space without a history. It collects familiar, forgotten, and previously unpublished texts from all corners of the world. Spanning antiquity to the present, the volume's selections cover myriad topics including the slave trade, explorers from China and the Middle East, shipwrecks and castaways, Caribbean and Somali pirates, battles and U-boats, narratives of the Ocean's origins, and the devastating effects of climate change. Containing gems of maritime writing ranging from myth, memoir, poetry, and scientific research to journalism, song lyrics, and scholarly writing, The Ocean Reader is the essential guide for all those wanting to understand the complex and long history of the Ocean that covers over 70 percent of the planet.


“Eric Paul Roorda’s selections for The Ocean Reader constitute an essential introduction to the wealth of writing—factual, fictional, and meditative; historical, experiential, and environmental—generated by people around the world throughout the course of recorded history. This volume is an essential companion for anyone interested in the story of our collective engagement with the world Ocean that touches us all.” — Lincoln Paine, author of The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

“It's easy to pay lip service to the Ocean's vastness and its essential importance in human history. And yet, as Eric Paul Roorda notes, we still hold on to the conceit that only life on land really matters. This fabulous anthology—as deep as the Ocean itself—is a stunning compendium of materials that, for the landlubbers among us, opens up remarkably new understandings.” — Orin Starn, Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History, Duke University

"The very breadth of the selections and some of the breeziness of some of the writing keeps things on an even keel. Extra credit for including a geek’s delight that combines the absurd with a hint of the ominous: The story of how rubber duckies flung overboard in a storm proceeded to become pioneering conquerors of the Northwest Passage. The once-mythical trade route that swallowed up entire expeditions will soon become reality (and a potential trade war prize) thanks to global warming." — T. E. Lyons, LEO Weekly

"Comprising 71 percent of the planet, the oceans are undoubtedly multifaceted, as this rich collection demonstrates, further exploring how humans have interacted and changed this vast watery realm over time. Recommended. All readership levels." — JB. Richardson III, Choice


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eric Paul Roorda is Professor of History at Bellarmine University; coeditor of The Dominican Republic Reader and author of The Dictator Next Door: The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930–1945, both also published by Duke University Press; and editor of Twain at Sea: The Maritime Writings of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Table of Contents Back to Top
A Note on The Ocean Reader  xv
Acknowledgments  xvii
Introduction  1
I. Creation  5
II. Ancient Seas  41
III. Unknown Waters  73
IV. Saltwater Hunt  121
V. Watery Highways  151
VI. Battlefields  203
VII. Piracy  261
VIII. Shipwrecks and Castaways  297
IX. Inspiration  337
X. Recreation  377
XI. Laboratory  433
XII. The Endangered Ocean  463
Suggestions for Further Reading  499
Acknowledgment of Copyrights and Sources  505
Index 515
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0696-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0600-8