Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers
by Simon Winchester
HarperCollins, 2015 (($28.99))

The Pacific Ocean is a place of superlatives: the oldest and largest, the most seismically active and biodiverse, and the site of the world's greatest mountains and deepest trenches. Journalist Winchester plumbs the ocean's science and its influence on people throughout time, writing, for example, of how the alluring geography of many Oceania islands has spurred imperial powers to usurp land from native peoples. And he explores the damage humanity has wreaked on the Pacific, polluting it with whirlpools of trash and destroying coral reefs, among other environmental insults. Ultimately Winchester shows that the Pacific has played a central part in history and is likely, through its ecological and geopolitical importance, to be just as vital to the future.