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The Sea Around Us

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,614 Ratings  ·  99 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 and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
41st out of 563 books — 753 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteLord of the Flies by William GoldingThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Best Books of the Decade: 1950's
106th out of 664 books — 924 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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JP Higgins
Aug 19, 2010 JP Higgins rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2010 Robin rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 09, 2011 Marielle rated it really liked it
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.

Jan 09, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 29, 2009 Maria rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, nature

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
Blythe King
Feb 01, 2011 Blythe King rated it it was amazing
[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
Jul 03, 2007 sarah dunebuggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 09, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 04, 2009 Marlene rated it liked it
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
S Moss
Aug 01, 2015 S Moss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Still Relevant Warning about Life on Earth

If you read only one chapter in this book, make sure it is the first one, “The Gray Beginnings.” With a mesmerizing mixture of fact, scientific reticence about the actual extent of human knowledge, and awe about the stage when “the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” (19), Carson describes how the earth evolved from a whirling mass of hot gasses into a sphere from which possibly the moon spun out (leaving behi
Sep 22, 2014 Margaret rated it it was amazing
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
Kelly Meehan
Jan 02, 2016 Kelly Meehan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Nonfiction at it's finest. Rachel Carson beautifully takes science and research from her time and created poetry. This book mystifies the Earth and ones experience with upon it. Rachel Carson is a role model for all, and has opened the eyes of many in her writings.
“The next time you stand on a beach at night, watching the moon’s bright path across the water, and the conscious of the moon-drawn tides, remember that the moon itself may have been born of a great tidal wave of earthly substance, to
Jul 26, 2008 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
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.
Angela Joyce
Jun 20, 2016 Angela Joyce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
No one tells a beautiful story through science like Rachel Carson.
May 30, 2008 Marissa rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 27, 2009 Jillita rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 20, 2010 Aimee Phillips rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 15, 2007 Lauren rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 14, 2010 Sharron rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I read cover to cover without stopping, a life changing book for me in college 50 years ago.
Sep 21, 2008 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: cypresslibrary
Lacks the frightening overtones of Silent Spring.
Last Ranger
Jun 19, 2015 Last Ranger rated it it was amazing

The Abyss:

We live on a blue planet, it's surface is dominated by a vast, mysterious, expanse of trackless wilderness that we call the ocean. All life, as far as we know, sprang from its timeless embrace, diversifying into the countless forms that inhabit the Earth today. From the darkest depth of the ocean to the farthest reaches of land and air, life is the defining element of our world. But each and every living thing carries within it the pulsing, bitter, chemistry of the sea, in its blood an
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Apr 26, 2015 Cindy Dyson Eitelman rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-14
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
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
Mar 11, 2016 Ken rated it it was amazing
Love this book! A beautiful example of informative writing that inspires and touches the soul. Carson reminds us of the immense role, scope, and power of the sea. Thought-provoking, too. Written in 1951 (updated in 1961), it provides an interesting perspective on climate change. I have lived by the sea all my life and have a whole new respect for it.
Christopher P.
May 04, 2015 Christopher P. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Carson is well known for her ideas and her efforts to educate people about the natural world. Usually, when people think of her, the think of her book SILENT SPRING, which some called the catalyst for the environmental movement we know today. The lesser known THE SEA AROUND US deserves the same amplitude of praise if not more. This book displays her most powerful writing. It is poetic and inspiring. Her chapter describing the formation of the earth will make any reader want to understand ...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
Jan 21, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
“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
Justin Haselhorst
May 16, 2016 Justin Haselhorst rated it it was amazing
Absolutely captivating read on the natural world, hugely increasing my admiration and understanding of the processes that have shaped this earth and resulted in life as we know it. Beauty in every page, every word seems to be placed exactly where it should be
Michel V
Jan 09, 2016 Michel V rated it it was amazing
Incredibly inspiring and thought provoking on every level imaginable. Rachel Carson delves into recent history of the oceans and its movements- to deep time and the forming of the earth, the moon and the oceans. It's a mystical read.
Apr 10, 2015 Leigh rated it really liked it
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
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Marine Science Bo...: The Sea Around Us 2 2 Nov 03, 2015 09:09AM  
  • Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas
  • The Empty Ocean
  • The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One
  • The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
  • The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher
  • Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature
  • American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau
  • The Ocean World (Abradale)
  • The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea
  • Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion
  • The Malay Archipelago
  • Biophilia
  • Spineless
  • Wilderness and the American Mind
  • Field Notes on Science & Nature
  • The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature
  • The Natural History of Selborne
  • Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
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 about 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.” 205 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.” 14 likes
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