Book club: ‘Tide’ by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

“A superb book . A delight to read. A strikingly British blend of history, science, literature, eccentric travel and wayward storytelling” – Sunday Times

Tide cover
The 2017 cover of the book by Penguin publishers

In his 2016 book ‘Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth’ natural sciences writer Hugh Aldresey-Williams delivers a deep dive into one of the most important natural phenomenon in human history. Through a collection of well researched historical accounts, fantastical nautical myths, travel expeditions around the globe and perfectly described scientific theories, Aldersey-Williams shines new light on a phenomenon most people have never given more than five minutes thought to. It is a journey through the past, present and potential future that explores how our very civilisation has been shaped by the constant ebb and flow of ‘the greatest force on Earth’.

The characters you meet along the way include medieval kings, monks, fishermen, famous authors and some of the greatest minds in human history. As well as the sea, which is a character in its own right and is brought to life by some truly spellbinding writing. Through an interconnected web of stories, anecdotes and facts the reader is exposed to aspects of the tides that they could not possibly have ever considered. We are shown how they have shaped not just our coastlines, but also the seafloor, weather patterns, location of major cities, outcomes of historical battles, evolution of life, global economy and even religion.

Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy in Canada is home to the biggest tides in the world and a location for one of the main chapters

The more you explore these ideas, the more you realise just how important the constant rising and falling of water can really be. However as you continue to turn the pages, you also realise just how out of touch and uninterested we have become in the ocean as a society. As well as how our impacts on the planet are beginning to permanently alter this natural phenomenon and how that is likely to impact us in the future. One thing is for sure, when you finish reading this book, you will never look at the sea in the same way again.

Venice tide gauge
The Venice tide gauge is a symbol of how the city has a strong connection to the tides both today, as they battle rising sea levels, and in the past, through the work of Galileo.

This review is the second in our new Marine Madness Book Club! At the beginning of every month we will be releasing a new review of an ocean inspired book and encouraging you to let us know what you think in the comments and via social media. To find out more visit the  Book Club page here.


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