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Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White takes readers across the globe to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides. In the Arctic, White shimmies under the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for mussels in the dark cavities left behind at low tide; in China, he races the Silver Dragon, a twenty-five-foot tidal bore that c ...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Trinity University Press
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4.23  · 
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 ·  307 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Covers much of the same historical and scientific material as Aldersey-Williams’ The Tide, but White’s more conversational style makes for livelier travel writing as he joins an Inuit guide in an ice cave beneath Ungava Bay in Canada’s Arctic, attends China’s Bore-Watching Festival on the Qiantang River, and interviews monks about the tides at northern France’s Mont Saint-Michel. The book also includes a thorough discussion of the possibility of using tidal power for renewable energy. White poet ...more
Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks)
This was a very interesting book and a topic that I have really never read much about. I was afraid it was going to be very dense but it was actually a really easy book to read. The author talks about a lot of things including the relationship between the sun & moon and the ocean and also between humans and the ocean. I also believe that the author talked about a variety of different topics concerning the ocean including biology, astronomy, history and the world's current events. It wasn't j ...more
Clare O'Beara
Foreword by Peter Matthiessen, in 2014.
First chapter, Fundy, North America, with tidal mudflats and sandpipers feeding. Since this has a high range between low and high tide, engineers were considering dams to capture energy, until they were told these would silt up fast. I enjoyed the accounts of studying the sandpipers. Tides meant a lot to native fisherfolk.

Mont Saint Michel, France. Causeway at low tide. Since this is a historical place, the author talks about tribal studies and beliefs abo
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a goodreads giveaway.

Tides is not a quick, easy read. It's a very thoughtful analysis of the relationship between our oceans and the sun and moon, and between the oceans and humanity. As such, it is simultaneously history, astronomy, physics, biology, philosophy, tourism, and current events, combined in a thoroughly readable book.

Author Jonathan White has successfully combined all of these elements into his work, relating many of his own personal experiences as introducti
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 living by the sea my life is driven by the tides so this book was my perfect companion as I walked low tide. Really enjoyed learning worldwide facts as I googled away from my kindle, fascinated by bores and spent too much time watching YouTube videos. Was a wonderful book if you are fascinated with the sea.
Margo Kelly
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan White's book, TIDES, includes interesting facts about the way our earth functions AND about the way people have learned to adapt over time to earth's cycles.

TIDES is a non-fiction book with such captivating prose that I wanted to keep reading until I hit the end.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

"From a practical point of view, it didn't matter if the tide was caused by a waterwheel or a beast or a god; it only mattered that daily survival was easier if you observed the tide and wo
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. This book was the perfect blend of science, history, and travel memoir. The author writes beautifully and while an interest in tides is obviously necessary, it's certainly not a dry read at all. There were a couple of minor errors that I noted- the Indonesian (Sumatran) earthquake was listed as occurring in 2002 (it's 2004) and the moon phases were labeled incorrectly (corrected in a later edition)- that caused me to lose a little confidence in the parts of the book that I was less fa ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I like best about Tides was how, as promised in the subtitle, White balances science and spirit. There is a great deal we learn about Tides in a way the lay reader can grasp. But there's plenty of tales from Native Americans and mythology , personal revelations and searching that I think make the book even stronger. I liked the sections best where White traveled around the world sharing his experiences in such places as the Bay of Fundy and Mont Saint Michel. The last chapter on the possibi ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I've never lived near water so I never gave much thought to tides. I figured it was just the water level rising and falling with the moon. Turns out there's a whole lot more to them than I'd known. Parts of this book are admittedly dry, but the variety in settings and cultures keeps the interest level up most of the time. I especially was interested to learn about the people who scavenge underneath the frozen surface of the sea when the low tide empties out beneath.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed for Foreword Books IndieFab Awards.

A little too much history of science (and not tides), and a few too many attempts by the author to create analogies between everyday non-tide events and tides. The links between some of them were strained nearly to the point of breaking and detracted from the actual, interesting tide-related content. Overall an enjoyable read.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was disappointed when my book club selected it, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting books I’ve read recently. Excellent!
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Life. If you are interested in the ebb and flow of how life exists on planet Earth this book is for you. Understanding the nature of the oceans, and how it affects our daily lives has been a human endeavor since the dawn of time. The author of Tides: The Science ad Spirit of the Ocean, Jonathan White, brings to the forefront the overwhelming human need to extrapolate the interplay between ocean and life.

Read the entire review here:
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean both informative and entertaining. I learned that there are many more factors to consider in forecasting tide heights than just the position of the moon, for instance.

The author, Jonathan White, has explored many places with unusually high tides, such as Ungava Bay and the Bay of Fundy. In Ungava he joined a local Inuit harvesting mussels in a cave under the ice when the tide was out. He does a fine job describing the sheer power of the tides, o
NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

Jonathan White is a sailor, surfer, writer, and active marine conservationist who takes his readers on an adventure around the world to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides.

Some of the fascinating topics covered in this book include tidal bores, tidal anomalies, the difference between spring and neap tides, the science and history of forecasting tides, resonance, geophysics, the different
Premal Vora
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Who would've thought that tidal movements would be so interesting? Before I read this book, I had a rudimentary understanding of tides: low and high. And I believed that they occur in a fairly regular manner and are consistent across the world. It's true that tidal movements are largely deterministic, but, for example, in the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that produces tidal charts, uses a model that has 200 variables in it to predict tides. Thus, apart from the ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I was intrigued by the subtitle - science and spirit. Sometimes, I can find science-related books to be a bit dull, so a dry, boring scientific explanation of tides would be enough to put me to sleep. White, however, relates the the science of tides along with a fascinating discussion of the spirit of the ocean and the impact of tides on humans at a visceral level. It's a winning combination that drew me right in.

White interweaves stories - both scientific and spiritual - into his book. Like the
William Kirkland
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, climate
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, by Jonathan White is science and personal experience at its best. New knowledge about long observed phenomenon tumble into the brain like tide-washed stones. Just a wonderful book!

He begins with tidal bores — those surfable waves created when great incoming tides meet great outgoing rivers. The Bay of Fundy is the most famous (on which I’ve surfed a muddy boat,) but there are many more. Qiantang, China, southwest of Shanghai, has been known for millenn
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started reading Tides mostly to update my understanding of the physics of how tides work, but the book offers a lot more "spirit" than "science". Not that this is a bad thing - I love the passion and poetry in Jonathan White's writing. His burning curiosity to understand tides takes him all over the world, meeting the Inuit people in the remote north to the cloistered monks in Mont-Saint-Michel, France to the tide swimmers at the tidal bore festival in China.
I love science books that let read
Wendy Feltham
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book about the most unusual tides in the world. Jonathan White succeeds at explaining the science and the spirit, as well as the history and power of tides. My favorite chapters described the world's biggest 55' tides at the Bay of Fundy, the beauty of the tides around Mont Saint-Michel, and an astonishing tidal bore that roars up a river in China. Jonathan White spent years researching this book and traveling to witness the unusual tides for himself. Along the way ...more
Mia Ruefenacht
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very cool and educational book! I like how it talks about the tides from many perspectives, such as science, history, and sociology, and shows their connections. I honestly never thought very much about the tides before, but now I know a lot more about them.
I do have some complaints though:
-the book is partly travel writing, and partly standard nonfiction. I did not like the travel sections very much, and I liked it much better when he was writing about the facts of the tide rather than his ow
Mike Mikulski
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great Nature/Science writing overlapping the evolution of tide science from early mystical beliefs, to Newton to the current state of tide knowledge. Tides are impacted by much more than just the alignment of sun and moon that I knew about. White explains fascinating other elements that come into play, wave mechanics, resonance of basins, overlap with weather conditions, planetary orbits all impact tides in different ways around the planet.

White interweaves the science with visits to people and
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: maritime
Fascinating topics including the science and history of forecasting tides, the difference of spring and neap tides, efforts to harvest energy from the ocean, and lastly (felt like an afterthought) the effects of rising tides on civilization.

Surprisingly he neglected to mention the San Francisco Bay Model in all of this.

Docked one star due to dire need of an editor: the writing was more "tell" than "show" and sections on historical natural philosophers were repeated.

Docked another star due to mul
D.R. Oestreicher
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tides by Jonathan White is a combination of travelogue, anthropology, and science. Each of the nine chapters starts with a topic and/or a place and presents the science, history, sociology etc. with an emphasis on tides. The book opens with the Bay of Fundy, and moves to Mont Saint-Michel and China. After a digression for Sir Isaac Newton, it proceeds to surfing, geophysics, and resonance. The book closes with energy and climate change.

Whether your interest is world travel, physics, or anthropol
Rob Wesson
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I find the tides super interesting. If you are curious about why most places on the ocean have two tides a day instead of only one, read this book. The answer is that one is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, the other by the centrifugal force on the opposite side of the Earth, as the Earth-Moon system spins around its center of mass. White uses the analogy of swinging a water balloon around at the end of a string. The balloon will stretch both toward and away ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
The more research on education I do, the more I see references to "living books": not textbooks to convey dry information in order get money, but books moved by the passion of a person who loves the subject. Tides is a living book. White has traveled to some of the world's most amazing tidal phenomena and interweaves his travel narratives with scientific and historical information. I learned A TON about a subject that had never really interested me before.

As a person of faith, I raised my eyebr
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This is an incredible work. The author provides an expansive, surprising, and engaging look at the complexity of tides throughout the world and its effect upon nature, society, as well as the cosmos.
He describes his travels all over the world where he observes first hand the power and intricacies of tidal movement. He shares with us conversations with experts and locals how the ebb and flow of the tide regulates their lives. The result is a book which far exceeded my expectations.
I took the boo
Sep 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Huge disappointment. Author seems to feel it somehow improves a book if each chapter consists of two unrelated stories interleaved together with tenuous strained connections. And if he does insane stupid things like tackling tide rips in an open skiff. There's some good stuff on tides in the book but it's way too much work ferreting it out, and even then it's not presented with even a modicum of rigor. Also, note to Author, if I were interested in stories about surfing, I'd look for a book that ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
TIDES! I never knew so many things affect tides. This is a fascinating journey that the author takes around the world to see, study and feel how tides impact people living on or near the intertidal zones. It is not boring. My brain is still reeling with all that encompasses the study of tides.

I was fortunate to be introduced to the book while in Seaside, OR. While walking past Beach Books, I saw a sign in the window that Jonathan White was giving a reading that evening. Am so happy I made that a
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains a lot of information about the tides from someone who loves water and the movement of water.

Tides differ around the world. They are always moving: ebb and flow. In some locations they are drastic, in others, negligible. These are many wonderful, intimate stories told about water, most which we will not experience for ourselves.

"Oceanographers claim that the volume of water that flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy during a tide cycle is equal to the combined outflow of all t
Peter Knapp
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, swimming
Really enjoyed this surprise book. Came across it as Powell's, looking for a good read for my "Ocean Buddies Book Club" - we've been trading various books. Heavy on the science of tides, but interwoven slowly into specific locations and stories. Amazing amount of influences that the tides have in surprising parts of our lives. As someone interested in how the ocean works, understanding better how the tides work is pretty fascinating. It's starts a bit slow in the first chapter, but picks up cons ...more
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Jonathan’s love for the sea is lifelong. He grew up on the beaches of southern California. He’s built and sailed many boats, logged more than a hundred thousand miles on the Pacific and Atlantic, and surfed all over the world. He has served on numerous conservation boards and committees, including the San Juan Preservation Trust, the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee, and the Northwest St ...more