The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Histories rarely include much of the 70% or so of the Earth that’s covered in water. There’s good reason for that: no one really lives there, but a great deal happens there. This ambitious book looks at a wide swath of civilization, from early riverine developments five thousand years ago to the great world wars of the last century. Paine manages to include not only individual civilizations, but also the global network slowly built as sailing technology improved—and how that network influenced language, commerce, and culture.

— From Tim


A monumental retelling of world history through the lens of the sea--revealing in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, lake and stream, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world's waterways, bringing together civilizations and defining what makes us most human. The Sea and Civilization is a mesmerizing, rhapsodic narrative of maritime enterprise, from the origins of long-distance migration to the great seafaring cultures of antiquity; from Song Dynasty human-powered paddle-boats to aircraft carriers and container ships. Lincoln Paine takes the reader on an intellectual adventure casting the world in a new light, in which the sea reigns supreme. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be linked to the sea. An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history.

About the Author

Lincoln Paine is the author of five books and more than fifty articles, reviews, and lectures on various aspects of maritime history. He lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife, Allison.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101970355
ISBN-10: 1101970359
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: October 27th, 2015
Pages: 800
Language: English