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Book The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History by John R. Gillis (2015-11-17)

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The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History by John R. Gillis (2015-11-17)

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • University Of Chicago Press (1829)
  • Unknown
  • 6
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Review Text

  • By Electronica on April 9, 2014

    I'm not sure what I expected, but this was a bit repetitive and in the end, more of a philosophical book than a historical one. The main theme is that mankind has viewed the shore from various perspectives throughout history, and our current way of viewing it may not be the best way of looking at it. Fine, but it seemed like it took a long way to get there! Along the way some nice history, and he provides you new perspectives on various events and periods in history. And I will probably look at news items about the coast and the shore a little differently now. But it might have been better as an extended magazine article.

  • By Bob Jacobson on January 8, 2014

    The author's style is properly respectful of the topic without being stodgy or academic. I, an environmentalist of long standing, learned something new on almost page -- and I'm just in Chapter 2! The relationship of human beings with coastal ecosystems is a life and death matter for humanity, now that more people around the world live on or near coasts than live inland. The author makes this case without polemics, just calm infusion of facts, unexpectedly making his argument irresistible.

  • By W. Jeffrey Bolster on July 2, 2013

    In this wonderfully provocative and high concept book, John Gillis provides a parable for our time. It is erudite and witty, but also deeply felt -- the product of a Bi-Coastal writer with one foot in the San Francisco Bay area and the other on the coast of Maine. As Gillis sees it, we live in an era defined by "a human wave rolling seaward," a global surge of population centers toward the shores and away from the interior of continents. Gillis is interested in the roots of that phenomena. But he is more interested in its implications -- in having his readers contemplate not only humans' long-standing relationship with the shore, but their impacts on it. This is especially germane in light of the recent Japanese tsunami and Super-storm Sandy. Reconstructing moving stories of ancient mariners, Vikings, Polynesian voyagers, beach-goers, lighthouse builders, and marine painters (among others), Gillis provides two crucial insights that policymakers, taxpayers, and the Army Corps of Engineers would do well to contemplate. First, "Nature does not draw lines or make sharp distinctions.... land and water are not opposites, but inseparable parts of an ecological continuum, especially along the shore." And second, as both human populations and sea levels rise, "Engineering will provide no fix." This is a vivid and thoughtful book -- essential reading for all who care about the sea or are interested in sustainable solutions for some of the compelling challenges we face.

  • By robert scally on April 11, 2013

    This is a work that will dramatically change and enlarge the reader's view of global geography, alter and refresh the way we read maps and allow us to reconsider the mental as well as the physical meaning of the places we inhabit and visit. One will never think of "coasts" and "shores" in the same way again.The breadth of knowledge, the immense geographical scope and the fresh insights into places past and present are quite unique. And the deep scholarship underlying this work is artfully clothed in graceful and engaging prose.

  • By n. van der wel on November 13, 2013

    This book is a account of the global history and culture of seacoasts. Gillis makes clear that they probably have been the starting points for many highly developed civilizations including western culture. In present-day consumer society shores are very popular, and at the same time they are seen as a onedimensional boundary. The place where land stops and sea begins. Gills has a fundamenally different point of view: the boundary is in fact, and has always been, an area that is both land and sea. Good read for real estate owners, beach lovers, conservationists, local history lovers, coastal path hikers, boat owners etc. Read this book with a specific coastline in mind, and you will look differently at the landscape, the sea, the archeology (if preserved), seawalls and groins, the villages, the local museum, the old people. Though a lot of Gillis' stories are about the American east and west coasts, they are relevant to shores all over the world, including the one in the Netherlands (where I'm from).

  • By Kip on April 6, 2014

    In what reads as a mythic story of the mortal child slaying its divine mother, Gillis gives the ocean and coastal areas a treatment as their own “geographical region” for historical study. After explaining the long and formative history the sea has had on human civilization and technology, he proposes that modern coastal dwellers are largely ignorant of their connections to, and effect on the ocean. This becomes an increasing problem as larger and larger populations move to coastal areas and increase their per capita impact as well.

  • By Anastasios Gounaris on August 5, 2017

    This book is packed with hitherto obscure or unknown history and facts concerning humankind's relationship with the sea. However it seems to me that the knowledgeable author's repetitive writing style make reading this book and overly long and laborious experience.

  • By Mhtuba on September 9, 2013

    I bought this book based upon a favorable review in my local Sierra Club newsletter. Dr. Gillis is a distinguished academic and his writing style reflects that background. Some readers will be surprised to find that humans have chosen to live water for a variety of reasons for thousands of years, and Gillis backs up all of his assertions with established historical and anthropological research. People have chosen to live by the ocean for many more reasons than you might think - certainly beyond boardwalks and suntans.If you live by the shore (as I choose to do) or are thinking about moving closer to the water (rivers and lakes too) this book should give a better understanding of what compels people to be drawn to the coastal environment.


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