This gripping book should be called The Pacific and Its Rim, as it contains as much about the countries fringing the ocean’s 64 million square miles as about the big blue and its black depths. Simon Winchester is a prolific non-fiction writer whose oeuvre includes the bestselling Surgeon of Crowthorne (about the murderer who made major contributions to the OED), two other works with ‘Pacific’ in the title, and Atlantic, a book about the world’s other major ocean. This latest might be his best yet.
The Pacific is the relic of the once all-encompassing Panthalassic Ocean that opened up 750 million years ago. But Winchester starts rather later, in 1950, and tracks what he reckons to be pivotal moments in the story – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wars and major scientific discoveries. Material is arranged in jauntily titled chapters such as ‘Mr Ibuka’s Radio Revolution’ and