We have always had good experience with Simon Winchester’s books before at table, and his Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories was no exception. Winchester organizes the work thematically around Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man speech (Jacques in As You Like It). He successfully incorporates his own experiences, such as meeting an old friend in the Falklands Islands or being on a ship at sea delayed waiting for a rescue plane, into his substantial historical narrative about the Atlantic, involving commerce and war and the arts. The first chapter and the last however did not work as well for table reading as they dealt with how the Atlantic came to be and how it will cease to exist, and the human narrative link is lost. This is of course no fault of the book, just difficult for listeners rather than readers.
The book also nicely anticipates some of the material in the subsequent table reading book, The Greater Journey, as Samuel Morse and his telegraph, and the laying of the telegraph cable between Newfoundland and Ireland, makes for a good read.