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Publisher's Summary

Humanity can make short work of the oceans' creatures. In 1741, hungry explorers discovered herds of Steller's sea cow in the Bering Strait, and in less than 30 years, the amiable beast had been harpooned into extinction. It's a classic story, but a key fact is often omitted. Bering Island was the last redoubt of a species that had been decimated by hunting and habitat loss years before the explorers set sail.
©2007 Island Press (P)2007 Island Press
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Critic Reviews

"Thoughtful, inspiring, devastating, and powerful, Roberts' comprehensive, welcoming, and compelling approach to an urgent subject conveys large problems in a succinct and involving manner. Readers won't be able to put it down." ( Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By R. Smith on 02-07-17

Superb! A unique and important history

This is a very good book. It's mostly about the history of man's exploitation of the sea. For example, whaling and over-fishing. There are not many books about the history of how over-fishing and over-hunting in the past has created the environment we have today.I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in fisheries, marine mammals, and the history of maritime exploration and commerce.

The first book I read by Callum Roberts was Oceans of Life, which is also superb, and is more focused on the oceans as ecosystems.

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5 out of 5 stars
By bill doyle on 11-19-13

A great tale of the sea. Read it.

Even if you think you know what we've done to the oceans, the fact is, you probably don't.

Roberts does a great job making you aware of this in painstaking, but never laboured, detail.

Particularly interesting is the treatment of secular hero, and Darwin ally, Thomas Huxley, who managed to be hopelessly wrong about the interaction between natural systems and market forces not once, but twice, and who doubtlessly went to his grave thoroughly convinced that it was reality that was the party at fault! His high-handed, patronising treatment of witnesses at his inquiry is cringe-inducing, and gave me a new perspective on the man, and the foibles of intellectual arrogance.

Which, really, is the message of the book. Free markets in the oceans are a disaster. Marine parks and competent regulation are the solution.

At the very least you'll gain an insight into why your grandchildren ended up living off jellyfish...

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ozzie on 06-11-18

Lets spread the word

Lets hope common sense will prevail and we can save our oceans. Marine reserves and other measures can benefit everyone on the planet including the fishing industry!

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5 out of 5 stars
By Wild Bunny Arts on 10-23-16

A must read.

Learning about slavery and colonisation of other countries made me ashamed to be white and European, thus book made me ashamed to be human. I shed a tear when I learned how humans have ravaged the seas for their own gain, only thinking of short term profit.

It makes for pretty depressing reading for the more sensitive of us (me). As a pescatarian, I've now made the decision to go full veggie unless the fish are from a sustainable source.

The book itself was for me pretty hard going, it began very well but lost me a bit half way. I'm glad I continued though because it ended spectacularly. It's left me pretty emotional though.

I wish I knew how to help end the ravaging of the seas, but even reading thus book and being aware of the destruction is a start. A massive eye opener, a heartbreaking tale.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Robert on 02-05-16

Yar

A valuable book for anyone interested in marine biology and the effects of fishing upon our oceans. Provides an interesting account of our once bountiful seas, what we are doing now and where we are heading in the future. Callum Roberts accents throughout the book are great, if he wasn't a scientist he could do impersonations. I did up the pace of the book to 1.25 or 1.5 though because I found it slightly better listening. I highly recommend Callum Roberts other book "Oceans of Life" as well.

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