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Let the Sea Make a Noise...: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur Paperback – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060578203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060578206
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,019,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McDougall chronicles the cultural, racial, economic and military confrontations of the British, Spaniards, Hawaiians and Chinese in the North Pacific since the 16th century. He pays special attention to the intertwined histories of the Americans, Russians and Japanese who made the North Pacific an arena for power politics. A history professor at the University of Pennsylvania (and author of the Pulitzer-winning The Heavens and the Earth ), McDougall is a first-rate scholar and a marvelous writer. Here he periodically interrupts his headlong narrative to present the minutes of seminars attended by ghosts of the North Pacific past: Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary; Kaahumanu, consort of Hawaiian King Kamehameha; William Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state; Count Sergey Witte, prime minister to Russia's Nicholas II; and Saito Hirosi, pre-Pearl Harbor Japanese ambassador to Washington. These well-informed, opinionated wraiths discuss and argue with one another (and with the author) about such matters as the theory of the mongrelization of races and the extraordinary profusion of atrocities committed by the Japanese military in WW II. This is an impressive study, breathtaking in scope, entertainingly informative and thought-provoking. Photos. $25,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is narrative history as Francis Parkman would be writing it if alive today.
Frank J O'Connor
He has done an outstanding job of crafting an entertaining, yet intricate examination of the motivating forces that have shaped a wondrous region of our planet.
S. Roberts
Most of these characters disagree with the "author," who expresses McDougall's views.
Theodore Kobernick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Roberts on August 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The best books are those so rich in character and content that you can revisit them time and again, certain that you will discover new layers of enjoyment and insight with each reading. Walter A. McDougall's "Let the Sea Make a Noise... : A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur" is just such a book. How fortunate we are that Perennial has newly released this volume in paperback!

McDougall takes the reader on a glorious (though sometimes harrowing) journey through time. He has succeeded in combining painstaking research and carefully considered commentary with a wonderfully woven and witty narrative. This gripping tale of the North Pacific is a genuine page-turner: a rare treat on the menu of today's history books!

Contrary to the lone opinion of a Washington State Amazon reader, rest assured that "Let the Sea Make a Noise..." is a balanced and scholarly presentation of the complexities of international relations. Written in the early 1990s (when Japan's economic prominence in the midst of Soviet collapse was the source of widespread international concern), McDougall's insights in "Let the Sea Make a Noise..." are often profoundly visionary and always poignant and honest. He has done an outstanding job of crafting an entertaining, yet intricate examination of the motivating forces that have shaped a wondrous region of our planet.

Once you have enjoyed this book, be sure to seek out McDougall's just-published "Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
With the subtitle "A history of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur" and a thickness of 2.5 inches, this Pulitzer Prize-winning author's book might seem awfully heavy reading.
It's not.
Let the Sea Make a Noise has all the elements of a world-class adventure yarn, made more exciting because the tale is actually true. McDougall begins by exploring different ways of enticing casual readers to plunge into his story. Thanks to this device and his flowing style, you're well into the book before coming up for air. By then, however, you'll be enmeshed in the ebbs and flows among Spanish California, Imperial Russia, Japan, Alaska, the kingdom of Hawaii and the United States.
Any story, no matter how gifted the writer, lives or dies by the elements of the tale. McDougall has chosen well -- during the last four centuries the Pacific has been washed by successive waves of expansion, conquering, defeat, retreat, retrenchment and return.
McDougall carefully shows how two countries' interactions have affected other countries -- sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. He intersperses his narrative with conversations among historical figures that a reader might initially find artificial but eventually will anticipate.
McDougall correctly realizes that tales of momentous times read best when they're seen through the eyes of the people experiencing them.
After all, people make history.
c1997, Camie Foster
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By loce_the_wizard VINE VOICE on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Let the Sea Make a Noise" forges historical scholarship with insightful notions about the realms encompassing the north Pacific Ocean. The author, Walter A. McDougall, spent untold hours researching and organizing minutia then interweaving vast history replete with sensory details; human and political failings, dreams, and successes; meteorological and geographic facts; and overlooked, obscure bits of history.

Consequently, the book itself is somewhat overwhelming for it is nearly impossible to absorb this level of detail or maintain a clear understanding of the myriad relationships and ideologies the author presents.

I suppose having too much detail is better than not enough in any book of this sort, and Mr. McDougall is never shy about throwing in what may be a touch of conjecture. One cannot really know what some of the many people profiled here might have been thinking, but ultimately the scope of the book prevails, and one must admire the tenacity and effort funneled in to this book.

Be prepared to invest some time reading this history but be forewarned that you may have to put the book down from time to time to let the facts and information swamp you like a big wave---and I found I wasn't always that eager to jump back in for more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a former student of Professor McDougall, I am fully aware of his many talents as a teacher and a writer. In Let the Sea Make a Noise, Professor McDougall shares all of his talents in a most enjoyable fashion.
The running conversation between several of the siginficant personalities who shaped the history of the Pacific explains why events unfolded as they did. Although lighthearted at times, these conversations clearly set forth the policies and morals possessed by the nations who constantly struggled in this vast expanse.
Similarly, Professor McDougall's descriptions of the significant events of this era are outstanding. It often feels like you are there.
Most noteworthy, Professor McDougall cuts to the heart of the issues, shares only the essential facts, and demonstrates their significance. Thus, the reader can appreciate the complex multitiude of attitudes, personalities, and morals that caused nations to act the way they did.
Always entertaining and certainly insightful, this book is a must read for any person interested in the history of this region.
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