Reviews

  • In its mixture of supreme storytelling, beautifully drawn characters, fearless scope and rigorous scholarship, it ranks with the very best of world histories. ... From Morocco to Hawaii, Australia to the Persian Gulf, he delivers an intense and thrilling tour de force, filled with pirates, kings, scholars, monsters, conquerors, sailors, merchants, adventurers, slavers and slaves, taking us from the age of triremes and longships, hulks and cogs, dhows and junks, galleons and dreadnoughts, all the way up to the container ship.

    Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Daily Telegraph
  • His grasp of the material is not so much encyclopaedic as breathtaking ... this is a tour de force. Writing history on this scale is challenging and enormously impressive; the author deserves applause for a magisterial achievement.

    Peter Frankopan, Sunday Times
  • The Boundless Sea is a work of immense scholarship, a forensic tribute to human enterprise. ... After reading this book your horizons will be wonderfully expanded, and you'll be as eager as the Ancient Mariner to retell its stories... Abulafia's masterpiece has the potential to alter the way we understand the human story and our place within it.

    Horatio Clare, Spectator
  • Nothing less than a history of humanity written from the perspective of the sea

    Jerry Brotton, Financial Times
  • David Abulafia's 2011 The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean set a standard in Middle Sea scholarship, charting a course from 22,000 BC to today, combining careful detail with epic sweep. This dazzlingly ambitious companion-piece looks far beyond the Strait and Suez, towards seaways older than those of Odysseus but less often explored. ... Readers might reasonably anticipate dull determinism, or boundless angst, but these shallows are avoided by shrewd sensitivity, and the sheer majesty of his subject. ... The Boundless Sea offers depth, zooming from ninth century steering to mirage-humped horizons. ... The sea will always spring surprises, but we plainly need to reimagine our coasts. The Boundless Sea reminds us brilliantly of once brand-new landfalls - times when endless oceans glittered with primordial possibilities.

    Derek Turner, Irish Times
  • Feast on the magnificent bounty that Abulafia has to offer.

    Gerard DeGroot, The Times
  • David Abulafia's The Boundless Sea ... is a majestic and beautifully illustrated account of human interaction with the sea, ranging from the Polynesians of the Pacific in the 1st century to the supertankers and vast cruise ships of our own times. Abulafia writes fluently and with deep humanity across the vast expanse of his subject.

    Ruth Scurr, Spectator

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