The Sea and Civilization

Lincoln Paine

RRP: £25.00

2 July 2015

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781782393580

RRP: £9.99

6 February 2014

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781782393573

A monumental, wholly accessible work of scholarship that retells human history through the story of mankind’s relationship with the sea.

An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history that reveals in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world’s waterways.

Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea with our ancestors’ first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India, Southeast and East Asia who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish vibrant overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European overseas expansion. His narrative traces subsequent developments in commercial and naval shipping through the post-Cold War era. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.


A magnificently sweeping world history that takes us from the people of Oceania and concludes with the container. In contrast to most books on maritime history, the majority of The Sea and Civilization covers the history of the world before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and at least as much of the narrative focuses on Asia as it does on Europe.Ben Wilson
Daily Telegraph

The Sea and Civilization is, without doubt, the most comprehensive maritime history ever produced... Some of the most exciting history published today is by freelancers like Paine who can ignore the rules of academia
The Times

A brilliantly researched and ambitious affirmation of the sea and civilisationPhilip Hoare
New Statesman

A true expert, Paine offers up treats... and drenches his pages with diverse, immersive detailBettany Hughes

The most enjoyable, the most refreshing, the most stimulating, the most comprehensive, the most discerning, the most insightful, the most up-to-date - in short, the best maritime history of the world.Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Elegantly written and encyclopedic in scope, with an expert grasp of the demands of seamanship in every age, The Sea and Civilization deserves a wide readership.
Wall Street Journal

Fascinating and beautifully written . . . Paine steps back from [an] Eurocentric view to tell the story of maritime travel through the entire sweep of human history. . . With its richness of detail, [The Sea and Civilization offers] an eloquent vision of how the sea served as a path to the modern world.
Foreign Affairs