By David Igler
Oxford University Press, 255 pages, $29.95
Quite the tales told in The Great Ocean of the Pacific Ocean which does not deserve its namesake. One, instead, finds in these tales from UC Irvine professor David Igler, the story of how it has been ravaged and exploited; that the victims were not just sea creatures, but also indigenous people and foreign cultures. One may gather from this book that this body of water could have been called The Ravaged Sea.
Sadly missing is an explanation for why so many people have been inspired by the sea. It offered freedom, new opportunities, and adventure. Not a lot of dreaming or exploring in this hard tale, rather conquering and categorizing. One will find long chapters on the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, wars for control against people, and exploitation of marine creatures.
“Dana viewed the Pacific Ocean and the neighboring landmasses as an immense jigsaw puzzle of interrelated parts: islands, continents, earth crust, ocean, and mountains.”
The book does provide great background information for creative writers who could find situations and backgrounds to tell historical stories. Readers will not find a fully coherent representative tale, with there being many tales of The Pacific. Gone is the romance for a place which provided freedoms and new opportunities for some. Instead are the stories we wish we could forget when we look at its sometimes placid rising waters.
Reviewed by Ryder Miller