Let the Sea Make a Noise: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur

Let the Sea Make a Noise: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur

by Walter A. McDougall
     
 

With echoes of Citizen, Shogun, The Fatal Shore, Hawaii, and Modern Times, this book is unlike any history you've ever read. Not pure history or pure novel or historical novel, Let the Sea Make a Noise... is novelistic history: impeccable nonfiction in a fantasy setting. Imagine a tale told by a dreaming professor to an audience of historical personages who were… See more details below

Overview

With echoes of Citizen, Shogun, The Fatal Shore, Hawaii, and Modern Times, this book is unlike any history you've ever read. Not pure history or pure novel or historical novel, Let the Sea Make a Noise... is novelistic history: impeccable nonfiction in a fantasy setting. Imagine a tale told by a dreaming professor to an audience of historical personages who were themselves key figures in the history the author is relating. Imagine a narrative that is frequently interrupted by these historical characters reminiscing and arguing about the meaning of the events they lived. Imagine a narrative of 400 years of exciting voyages of discovery, pioneering feats, engineering marvels, political plots and business chicanery, racial clashes and brutal wars - a chronicle replete with little-known facts and turning points but always focused on the remarkable people at the center of events, among them, the American-loving Japanese ambassador to Washington on the eve of Pearl Harbor, the Russian builder of the Trans-Siberian railway, a Hawaiian queen from the first period of Western competition for the Islands, the American Secretary of State infamous for his "folly" in purchasing Alaska, a Spanish missionary from the period when it looked as if the whole area might have become part of the Spanish realm. A stunning saga of human adventure, Let the Sea Make a Noise... is a gripping account of the rise and fall of empires in the last vast unexplored corner of the habitable earth - an area occupying one-sixth of the globe. Organized into short, action-packed scenarios that zip the reader from the tropical paradise of Hawaii to the island fortress of Japan, from the frozen wastes of Siberia to the California coastline and into the power centers of London, Washington, Tokyo, and St. Petersburg, the book offers dazzling insights into all the twists and turns of the Pacific empire.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winning author McDougall covers 400 years of conquests, wars and upheavals in the North Pacific. (Nov.)
Library Journal
McDougall (history, Univ. of Pennsylvania) has given us a stimulating analysis of the interaction of the races and cultures of the North Pacific over the past four centuries. Tracing developments in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Hawaii, and other north Pacific islands, he examines the history, societies, economics, and geopolitics of the region within the context of three eras defined by technology: ``Of Sail and Muscle,'' ``Of Steam and Rails,'' and ``Internal Combustion.'' His imaginative and original approach includes bringing to life prominent figures from different countries and eras to help interpret the important events in which they participated. A delight to read; highly recommeded.-- W.L. Wuerch, Micronesian Area Research Ctr . , Univ. of Guam
Booknews
A fascinating novelistic history of 400 years of voyages of discovery, pioneering feats, engineering marvels, political plots and business chicanery, racial clashes and brutal wars--chronicled in a narrative that is frequently interrupted by the historical figures themselves, reminiscing and arguing about the meaning of the events they lived. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Generation-spanning tales of the North Pacific from a Pulitzer-winning historian who's also a gifted storyteller. Given the breadth of the claim he's staked on a vast area that extends along a coastal arc from Baja California to China, it's no wonder that McDougall (...The Heavens and the Earth, 1985) chose a Michener-like format for his absorbing if episodic saga. It's the author's elegantly effective conceit that the favorite consort of Hawaii's King Kamehameha has summoned him and others to pass judgment on regional events over a span of nearly four centuries. Among the heavenly guests are Hiresi Saito (Japan's ambassador to the US during the 1930's), Junipero Serra (the Spanish monk whose missions opened Alta California to white settlement), William Henry Seward (Lincoln's secretary of state), and Count Sergey Witte (Tsar Nicholas II's prime minister). With more than a dozen breaks for spirited colloquies with his phantom collaborators, McDougall offers short-take accounts of historical milestones ranging in time from the opening of new sea lanes during the late 16th century through the 1950 outbreak of hostilities between North and South Korea. Covered along the way are oceangoing voyages of discovery (by Captain Cook et al.); development of the fur trade; gold rushes; earthquakes (in Tokyo as well as San Francisco); the impact of transport technologies (steamships, railroads, aircraft); the US purchase of Alaska; imperial Japan's conflicts with Russia; WW II; and more. While offbeat, the author's framework allows him to focus on questions he deems most consequential and to examine them from several standpoints. The discontinuous chronicle addresses substantive issues throughout,concluding, among other matters, that over the years demographic forces have proved far stronger than governmental imperatives. Perceptive, coherent perspectives—mounted in a flashy and accessible text—on a once-remote domain that's a world unto itself. (Thirty-two pages of maps and photos—not seen).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380724673
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/28/1994
Pages:
816
Product dimensions:
6.03(w) x 9.02(h) x 1.42(d)

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