The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail
Harvard University Press, 2012
excerpt from publisher's website: Since the Viking ascendancy in the Middle Ages, the Atlantic has shaped the lives of people who depend upon it for survival. And just as surely, people have shaped the Atlantic. In his innovative account of this interdependency, W. Jeffrey Bolster, a historian and professional seafarer, takes us through a millennium-long environmental history of our impact on one of the largest ecosystems in the world. Blending marine biology, ecological insight, and a remarkable cast of characters, from notable explorers to scientists to an army of unknown fishermen, Bolster tells a story that is both ecological and human: the prelude to an environmental disaster. Over generations, harvesters created a quiet catastrophe as the sea could no longer renew itself. Bolster writes in the hope that the intimate relationship humans have long had with the ocean, and the species that live within it, can be restored for future generations.
Winner of the 2013 Bancroft Prize, the North American Society for Oceanic History’s John Lyman Book Award for the best book in U.S. Maritime History, the American Historical Association’s 2013 Albert J. Beveridge Prize, and the American Historical Association’s 2013 James Rawley Prize in Atlantic History.