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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 1, 2012
[NOTE: This review pertains specifically to the free public domain ebook edition offered in the Kindle Store, though its remarks are relevant to any other edition to which it may (unintentionally and erroneously) be attached.]

This free, public domain edition is the "classic" old translation by Louis Mercier most of us have read and loved. It is a grand adventure and is very enjoyable in a quaint, old-fashioned way. There is nothing terrible with this popular translation, but (admittedly) chunks of the novel WERE left out, not so much that the overall story itself was greatly altered, but still leaving the finished work not as Verne wrote it and intended it to be. (What was omitted were essentially scientific details Mercier thought impeded the story, some possibly awkward political references, and sections presumably thought to be redundant.)

But you can decide for yourself the extent to which these omissions may have negatively impacted the story, because, fortunately, there is ANOTHER free, public domain version available which I would encourage you to ALSO download and read; that one is a modern translation by F. P. Walter and it is unabridged. It may be found in the Kindle store by typing: "Verne Vingt Mille English." The title is French but don't worry, the book is entirely in English with a very informative introduction by Walter. This great new translation is wordier than the old one, but it comes as close (in English) to what Verne actually wrote (in French) -- and it IS complete; in fact, it has about 100 more pages! I would strongly urge you to compare them (especially if you are a true Jules Verne fan). But quite frankly, EITHER version tells a great story.

FYI: Be aware of two other excellent, new, complete, modern translations of "20,000 Leagues" available in the Kindle Store, one by Anthony Bonner (Random) and another by Mendor Brunetti (Penguin). Both are very good, though I personally lean toward Brunetti's purely for stylistic reasons. You may wish to sample and compare both of them. Unlike Walter's translation, Bonner's and Brunetti's are not in the public domain and they are not free, but both are very reasonably priced (with Brunetti's being the cheaper of the two).
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VINE VOICEon June 8, 2010
This is Jules Verne's classic tale of undersea adventure, as best I can tell based on the 1873 translation by Lewis Mercier. Since that's been the standard English translation for over a hundred years, it's probably the one you remember reading way back when, and the edition you'll be familiar with.

Re-reading this as an adult, and an adult who's spent twenty-plus years since then reading science fiction, I did have to remind myself more than once how amazing the then-future technologies Verne describes, like electric rifles, undersea diving suits, electric motors, etc., would have been to his contemporary readers; the book was first published in 1869, a mere five years after the Confederate submarine Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy warship (and sank itself in the process). At times I found myself mentally substituting "outer space" for "under sea," just to help me analogize the situation. Despite that, the plot and action were as riveting now as they were when I first read it twenty years ago. I did find myself, now as then, skimming over much of Verne's extensive scientific descriptions of undersea flora and fauna, etc., but that might be my own failing as a reader -- when I did take the time to read Verne's descriptions, I did sometimes catch the same sense of aquatic wonder I remember from watching films like _The Life Aquatic_.

From what I've read, the Mercier translation this is based on contains a number of translation errors, cuts out about 20% of the text, etc. Corrected, completed, updated ebook editions of this classic are available on Amazon, but they cost money -- I've been unable to find an out-of-copyright, corrected, complete, and free edition. For readers on a budget, though, this is probably the version you remember, and if read in the right way -- keeping in mind the era in which it was written, and skimming whenever the science gets too dry or detailed for you -- it's still quite entertaining.

Verne did write a sequel, _The Mysterious Island_, also available in the kindle free store; the better translation is available here: The Mysterious Island.
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on January 29, 2015
I got this Kindle edition as one of the monthly free Whispersync deals, and my kids and I are following along while listening to the fabulous audio recording. As one of the other reviewers mentioned, the Kindle version has omitted portions of the text that add dimension to the story. While some readers might appreciate a more streamlined presentation of the story---and might give this edition five stars because it's easier to read---I'm giving this edition two stars because it cheats the author out of the artistry he intended. Thankfully, the audio that came with the Kindle edition has kept all that descriptive and rich language. Because the Kindle edition does not contain the same text that the Audible version uses, we are unable to look up some of the vocabulary. Bummer! Part of the beauty of Kindle is its use as a tool by which we can learn vocabulary.

If you want to read the book just to get the gist of the story, this is a good edition to use. If you are using it to enjoy the writing style of Jules Verne, you should try a different edition.
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VINE VOICEon June 19, 2011
Who is Captain Nemo? Is he the antithesis of a 19th century capitalist? Is he the result of capitalism, using technology to gain the liberty of a higher standard of living which it allows? Is he despot, savior, evil or compassionate?

Nemo epitomizes a vision of humanity which is arrogantly attempting to create a peaceful world through technology. The battle is clearly in vain as the characters are hindered by the passions of their natures.

Nemo is the rebel, the nationless man, who has turned away from the machine mentality, dollar diplomacy and imperialist expansionism of his age.

Verne creates a self-contained world for Nemo, one in which there is no dependency on capitalism. All that Nemo needs is produced by the Nautilus.

This freedom is decadent. The Nautilus produces no surplus value other than to provide for the whims of Nemo, a person dehumanized by the progress of the developing western world. A world he doesn't understand or is in touch with.

Even in his act of political intervention against imperialism through the financing of the liberation movement of the Cretans from the Turks was decadent. The money came from the sea, it was put back into circulation, it wasn't the result of production or creativity. There is no net gain to society by this action. The people could have been better provided for by encouraging production and industry.

Though Nemo was creative enough to produce the Nautilus to escape his world of torment, he's nothing more than a narcissist. Racing back and forth across the oceans is an act of conspicuous and selfish consumption.

Nemo's goal is conquest of the sea, to make nature a possession, something no longer mysterious and otherworldly, but just a part of the humanized world, as if that's possible.

Though Nemo suffers great loss, he blames the world, not himself. He sees himself as virtuous, as a victim of industry and progress. He is a paradox of the world.

His is a world running from machines and science in a machine. A world free from governments and country in which he governs. A world free from captivity in which he holds others captive. A world from which he takes freely, but gives nothing to in return. Nemo is everything he disdains.

All of this is lost to Nemo, an obscurity of self, hidden behind his anger and self exile. Reckless abandon seems to be his only motive. His disgust with society has robbed him of all virtue, all concern for others.

In making his journey of discovery around the world, Nemo fails to make the most important discovry there is, what it means to be human.
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on August 18, 2015
Ok so confession: about halfway through I got tired of the SUPER detailed descriptions of the sea life and underwater world. So I skimmed a LOT of pages from that point on that were just marine descriptions. That being said, the descriptions were detailed and vivid. I felt like I was traveling with Captain Nemo.

I gave this book 4 stars because I loved the story and the narrator. Parts of this book were absolutely riveting, and I felt like I experienced all the emotions of being lost at sea, walking on the bottom of the ocean, and being trapped in an iceberg (to name a few). For the time, I think the science and hypothesis about deep ocean life are pretty incredible, even if some of the theories are slightly flawed. It's fiction so it doesn't ever have to be perfect. The end of the book is incredibly intense and fascination as the reader learns more about Captain Nemo. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there are some really epic moments in this book between man and beast.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the science fiction genre or adventure stories. It took me a little while to read because I got bogged down in all the descriptions, but the overall story is really great.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 23, 2015
I love Jules Verne. I loved his books as a kid and I love them now.

AS a kid, 20,000 League Under the Sea was one of my absolute favorites. I remember being glued to the pages. My mother thought I was sick because I never showed that much enthusiasm for reading as a kid. Unfortunately, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea didn't hold up for me over the years. I recently picked it up again to give it a go as an adult. It just read so slow.

Maybe this is a product of me living in a world more advanced than Jules Verne even imagined. Whatever the reason, the magic just wasn't there for 20,000 Leagues as an adult.

I still have the utmost respect for this book. As the pure science fiction it was when first written it's absolutely amazing. It just doesn't captivate me anymore after having been on real submarines (including one called The Nautilus, named for the vessel of Verne's writings, docked as a museum in Connecticut) the sci fi book about futuristic submarines that are less powerful than real subs that have long since outlived their service life just doesn't stay magic.

This made me sad. But at the same time, it doesn't take away my great memories of reading it as a kid. Nor do I think it will hamper my kids' love of 20,000 Leagues as they don't know anything about real submarines.

Oddly though, Around the World in 80 days is still a great read even though I can easily circumnavigate the world I about 48 hours for the price of a few plane tickets today. Outgrowing the writings of another era is hit or miss, I guess.
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on August 22, 2015
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus, as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on their ship. On the Nautilus, the three embark on a journey which has them going all around the world.
So I read this book back when I was in middle school and I just remember being absolutely fascinated by it. Jules Verne weaves a tale of adventure and danger, exploring the darkest unknown depths of the oceans in a spectacular way. It's perfect for long car drives, plane flights, and rainy days. It's a quick page-turner that makes it impossible to put down. Jules Verne really likes to use lots of scientific references and vocabulary, so that may take some getting used to for some readers, especially younger ones, but it's all worth, Great Reading Everyone!
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on November 22, 2011
My exposure to science fiction is embarrassingly limited, so who better to remedy it than Verne? Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was a groundbreaking work. It particularly established hard science fiction at a time when technology could not help but change the way we looked at the world.

And therein lies much of my criticism. With its frequent calculations of the size of the submarine and what not, it sometimes reads like a math textbook. Sadly, I do not take the same interest in the science as Verne so obviously did and other readers may. The descriptions of life at the bottom of the sea, on the other hand, make me want to visit an aquarium post-haste. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is very much the type of science fiction that revels in the `science' part.

That is not to say that Verne does take advantage of speculative fiction to use the "speculative" portion to explore human nature. Captain Nemo is as fertile ground as Captain Ahab for this. And our narrator has even less to say about his captain--he is consistently naïve, to the point that the subtleties of Nemo can be at first lost. However, over the course of the novel it becomes apparent that all is not well. We are never told what great sin civilization has done Nemo, rather we must wrestle over whether any sin could justify his actions. The action is quite light and the plot slow-placed. Most of the book is devoted to a tour of the wonders of the deep, with Nemo's gradual, swirling decline in the background.

The titular "twenty thousand leagues" refers to the distance covered by the Nautilus over the course of the book--well over twice the circumference of the earth--not the depth to which it sinks. There is no good reason to think the latter, but I was nonetheless confused on this point for years.

Of course any book this old will not age evenly. Captain Nemo's conservation instincts are a bit off-base. Shortly after chastising the whaler Ned Land for seeking to hunt southern whales, which he describes as "inoffensive creature[s]," he gleefully slaughters a herd of "cruel, mischievous" sperm whales. Hardly sustainability at its best. But perhaps Verne too expected us to recoil with Land at the bloodbath (how odd it is to side with the whaler over the conservationist).

Verne is as successful as any science fiction writer at his predictive science and technology. Sometimes it's incredibly accurate--Verne describes a light bulb a decade prior to its invention, the crew of the Nautilus communicate with an invented language a little under fifteen years before the invention of Esperanto, the South Pole is on a southern continent, and the Nautilus is largely built and operates like modern submarines (especially the double-hulled design). Other times, it's less so--a workable electric bullet has yet to be invented. Verne also repeats errors of his day--e.g., the misplaced notion that malaria was caused by "foul air."

Verne wrote at an exciting time. The south pole had not yet been reached and the first trans-Atlantic (telegraph) cable had recently been laid. We were just beginning to understand electricity. The ocean remained a great, unknown frontier.

Verne frequently uses archaic or technical terms for the sea creatures encountered. Sperm whales are called cachalots, walruses are called morse, and sea horses are called hippocampi.

I read the Kindle version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea offered free through Amazon. There are a handful of typographical errors, but not enough to be overly distracting and none that cause confusion. Most bothersome is the degree symbol is replaced by a question mark throughout--a common error as the submarine's latitude is frequently given. It includes neither a foreword nor an afterword. I also own an old Educator Classic Library edition from 1968. It contains numerous added illustrations and helpful definitions and explanations throughout the text (directly next to the relevant text in the margin so they do not affect readability like a footnote or endnote would). These are particularly helpful for an older hard science fiction novel. It also contains a "backword" with helpful information about Verne and the history of the submarine.
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on October 17, 2014
"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne is a venerable science fiction classic from 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus, as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on their ship. On the Nautilus, the three embark on a journey which has them going all around the world. Anyone who has ever seen Walt Disney's version with Kirk Douglas and James Mason can easily plug the movie characters into their mental pictures described in the book. Somewhat tedious to the modern reader is the laundry lists of sea flora and fauna the Professor encounters. Interesting was the subterranean river connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, a connection later accomplished by the Suez Canal. The heroes are saved in the end by something which can be described only as "deus ex machina": the submarine is in a mighty whirlpool going to its doom, the heroes are rendered unconscious to awaken in a fishing village. Be that as it may, the book is an enjoyable experience.
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on February 9, 2015
I have read some reviews about this specific version of the novel, but from my perspective I just wanted to read the story. For my specific needs, I don't need to go track down a "most complete and unaltered version ever" of the book. I'm perfectly happy with what I got, and the price too!

The story is a lot of fun. It's been a great many year since I read it, so much so that I had forgotten most of the details. So it was a lot of fun to go back and experience it again.

It's really funny to read something so old that did such an amazing job of describing technology that was still a ways off in the future.

It's a great adventure for both the old and young. The story itself is five stars all day long. And for my needs, this version of it deserves no less.
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