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The Sea Around Us

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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,308 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Published in 1951, The Sea Around Us is one of the most remarkably successful books ever written about the natural world. Rachel Carson's rare ability to combine scientific insight with moving, poetic prose catapulted her book to first place on The New York Times best-seller list, where it enjoyed wide attention for thirty-one consecutive weeks. It remained on the list for ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 12th 1991 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1951)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanThe Lorax by Dr. SeussDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
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Community Reviews

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JP Higgins
I read the 1963 edition, the ninth printing of this, Rachel Carson's 1951 winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction. (Note: This date is taken from text on the book's jacket. However, Wikipedia says the award was in 1952.) This '63 edition included an Appendix of 16 notes (in 11 pages) by Carson that updated the mid-century science of the original with several relevant discoveries in the 12 years subsequent to first publication. Rachel Carson is in most circles more famous for "Silent Spr ...more
Marielle
This classic is great! Very informative, but the scientific language is engaging and readable. I learned a lot from this book. Though it was written in the 1950's and some of the theories have since been changed erased, for the most part it is accurate.

Loved the first chapter in particular where she talks about one of the theories of the moon's creation, torn from the top layer of the Earth's crust from what is now the Pacific ocean, pulled by tidal waves of force into space - as the moon.

Even
...more
Robin
This book launched Rachel Carson’s career as a popular science literature writer. If you have never read any of her ocean books, start with this one. Her writing is unique in that she describes science facts almost poetically, weaving story after story of the wonder and mystery of the oceans. She involves the reader by asking questions and then exploring possible answers, all the while revealing new facts to the reader. Delving into marine biology, ecology (a term that she originally coined, alo ...more
Judy
Jan 09, 2012 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: every darn human being

Without reservation I can say this is one of the most amazing reading experiences I have ever had. I rarely read non-fiction in book form. When I do, I read memoirs, biographies (usually of writers and artists), and occasionally history, but never science. I decided to read The Sea Around Us because it was a non-fiction bestseller in 1951, a year that falls within my Big Fat Reading Project, but also because Rachel Carson is one of my heroines.

She is an eloquent and inspiring science writer. She
...more
Maria
Great!

Rachel Carson has a way of making science sound like poetry. I hope someday I have a tenth of her talent in conveying how beautiful and exciting science and nature are to me. She is so passionate that it rubs off on the reader. All I wanted to do while reading this was to be by the beach. I miss it so much and hearing her write about the oceans like they are her lover was wonderful. Despite all the marvelous advances in research that have happened since the publication of Carson's original
...more
Blythe King
[on phosphorescent displays] "But usually the blaze and glitter of the sea, whatever its meaning for those who produce it, implies no menace to man. Seen from the deck of a vessel in open ocean, a tiny, man-made observation point in the vast world of sea and sky, it has an eerie and unearthly quality. Man, in his vanity, subconsciously attributes a human origin to any light not of moon or stars or sun. Lights on the shore, lights moving over the water, mean lights kindled and controlled by othe ...more
sarah dunebuggy
My friend lent me this book and said I should read the first chapter. Carson turns the beginnings of the Earth into poetry. Reading this reminded me of how little I think about science anymore, partly because it can be so dry and technical, and the interesting ideas get bogged down by vocabulary. But that's not the case at all in this book. It's good to remember how many changes the Earth has gone through and how long it has been existing--so far one of my favorite theories in the book is that w ...more
Denise Rolon
This book taught me how the ocean was formed, and how it is renewed. I learned that I live almost on the Sargasso Sea, and I learned what's special about that. I learned about the great cycles of the sea, how earth and minerals and water are exchanged, and also about the annual seasons in the sea. I learned about the ocean currents, and why all the beaches south of Hatteras are so much more comfortable for swimming.

This book is dated. Even after reading the footnotes, there is some information t
...more
Marlene
This is an older book so, to be expected, some of the science is outdated. For example, though she doesn't say so explicitly, she seems to think that the Pacific islands were populated from South America (ala Kon-Tiki) although it has been pretty well established that they were populated from West to East. However, the writing is lyrical and there are some things to learn about the oceans which are unchangeable.
On an alarming note, she writes about the vast Pacific Ocean garbage dump which, if i
...more
Margaret
The book is a seminal work by Rachel Carson. She writes knowledgeably, scientifically, and passionately about her topic. I learned so much reading this 1940’s nonfiction work of art. I rate it with the River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. It’s that good. In addition the author’s story is just as compelling. As an aquatic-biologist, RC worked for the government and studied the waters – seas, bays, and marshes in the New England area, and given her writing talent, she was able to convey her ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
The classic natural history in a 1961 update, with footnotes, introduction and an afterword. The introduction was by Ann H. Zwinger; the afterword by Jeffrey S. Levinton. It doesn't say who wrote the footnotes so I assume it was Rachel Carson herself.

This is the kind of book that taught me to love natural history writing long, long ago. A 2014 rewrite would be cool. Some things never change--wind, water and waves--but our understanding of them does. It would be a different book today...but not s
...more
Cheryl
even though it was written in the 50's, it is still important. she is a poet and scientist and i love that combination. this book is an amazing mix of learning new things about the ocean that are still true and experiencing the wonder of a night sky in the middle of the ocean where there are more stars than you have ever seen and the ocean itself is lighted by phosphorescent fish and plankton. amazing read.
Marissa
I had the hardcover version as a kid and would stare at the pictures for hours, especially the double paged one with the giant squid fighting with a whale. I considered becoming a marine biologist because of this book. When I got older and read the words, they had just as much impact as the pictures.
Jillita
A kindred spirit who also grew up in Pittsburgh and managed to escape to live her dream of being by the sea. Her natural history opus that brought the mysteries of the ocean to millions of non-scientists. Fun to read a science journal cira-1950 and hear Carson mention a new "theory" of plate tectonics.
Aimee Phillips
Rachel Carson exposed me to the ability to combine your love of nature and writing. She connects science to poetry and takes you on a journey you've never been on. Her love and knowledge engross you in the mystical world of the sea.
Lauren
This is one of the most beautifully-written books I have ever read. Scientific poetry. Poetical science. I don't know how to describe it, but it's beautiful, just beautiful.
Sharron
This is the first book I read cover to cover without stopping, a life changing book for me in college 50 years ago.
Valerie
Lacks the frightening overtones of Silent Spring.
Chuck
Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" demystified the harm that pesticides were doing to our environment and our health and in my opinion was the catalyst for the modern environmental movement in the United States over the past fifty years. That book was published in the early sixties and was a book that motivated my interest in birds, nature and the environment to this day. It was not her first effort in punlishing, however. Ten years before she wrote this book which was so popular that it remin ...more
Tippy Jackson
The Sea around us explores ocean currents, the history of humans traveling on the sea, tides (my favorite section) and waves, the creation of the ocean and our atmosphere and things of that nature. I did get a few new interesting facts out of it, but a lot of this I already knew. I liked that it looked at the ocean from an interdisciplinary perspective. Also, the updates in this book are incredibly helpful, providing more current information than was available to Rachael Carson when she wrote th ...more
Elizabeth
“Eventually man, too, found his way back to the sea. Standing on its shore, he must have looked out upon it with wonder and curiosity, compounded with an unconscious recognition of his lineage. He could not physically re-enter the ocean as the seals and whales had done. But over the centuries, with all the skill and ingenuity and reasoning powers of his mind, he has sought to explore and investigate even its most remote parts, so that he might re-enter it mentally and imaginatively.”

While some
...more
Leigh
What a beautiful book this is. I've never read Silent Spring or any other of Carson's works, but I found her writing to be accessible as well as lyrical, which is a first for me when it comes to scientific nonfiction. I've always been fascinated by the sea and its inhabitants, and Carson lays out a complete history and broad scope of the oceans as we knew them. I would love to read a revised edition with all the new insights we've learned over the last 50 years (this edition was published 1961), ...more
Kenno82
I understand that the edition of Carson's 'The Sea Around Us' for young readers was edited from the original. However, I am unaware of the extent of the changes. That said, the book maintains the strong sense of wonder about the ocean that I expected based on others' reviews of the original. The ideas expressed in this book are extremely relevant today and must have been progressive at the time of publishing. This particular edition looks a lot like a high school text book and I couldn't help re ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Carson writes about the oceans of the world and how they affect our lives from transportation to food to climate. She ludes some dramatic photographs.
Bill O'driscoll
Carson's National Book Award winner predates "Silent Spring" by a decade or so. It's not, however, an alarm-sounding book, but rather a widescreen look at the forces that shaped the oceans as we know them, from geological cataclyms billions of years ago to the erosion of today. It's quite beautiful and cogent, though it lacks any sustained narrative and certainly the urgency of "Silent Spring." I found especially interesting her discussion of subsurface currents and how they affect weather -- so ...more
Michaela
Oct 19, 2008 Michaela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like scientific non-fiction that reads like prose
Shelves: nonfiction
A heavy read - I couldn't get all the way through it until I was out of high school and had matured a bit as a reader. But it is written with passion and interest, and not dull by any means. A comprehensive look at, broadly, the Sea. It is filled with interesting information. As a side note, Rachel Carson was one of the first people to bring environmentalism to the public's attention, especially with her book Silent Spring, which I have not read, but would like to after reading this. She made pe ...more
Madison Zaldivar
I love this book it's actually very interesting
Sandra Wallace
If ever there was a book that can get you enthralled about primordial life and how inter-connected we are to nature--in particular, the ocean--this is it. A non-fiction masterpiece that reads like a science fiction thriller sprinkled with exquisite prose, Rachel's Carson's 1950 classic had me reading the chapter about the Sargasso sea over and over. I kept imagining the plants feasting on the salty calm of the Sargasso's brown weeds, achieving immortality; some possibly living for centuries and ...more
Anna
In The Sea Around Us Rachel Carson writes about the history and geography of the world's oceans, how the oceans affect and have affected the lives of the animals and plants on earth, how the oceans are affected by the sun, the moon, the changes of the earth; and the science of the winds, currents, and tides. In my opinion it's not as engaging a read as Under The Sea-Wind, but it's still worth reading, especially if you're interested in the oceans.
Evan White
4.5

Better than Silent Spring, IMHO. Gorgeous descriptions of the oceans and the life that was within them before we overfished them. Still relevant.

Started and finished: Southeast Asia, Indonesia I believe, 2004
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Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won
...more
More about Rachel Carson...
Silent Spring The Sense of Wonder The Edge of the Sea Under the Sea Wind Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson

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“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” 171 likes
“Eventually man, too, found his way back to the sea. Standing on its shores, he must have looked out upon it with wonder and curiosity, compounded with an unconscious recognition of his lineage. He could not physically re-enter the ocean as the seals and whales had done. But over the centuries, with all the skill and ingenuity and reasoning powers of his mind, he has sought to explore and investigate even its most remote parts, so that he might re-enter it mentally and imaginatively.” 10 likes
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