The Making of An American Sea
Jack E. Davis
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History
Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction
The Gulf of Mexico may not officially be an ocean, but in The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, historian Jack Davis makes the compelling case for it being very much its own sea, one that is very different from the Atlantic. And as the most American sea – with its shores shared only with Mexico and Cuba – it deserves its own history.
Ranging the distance from geological formation to the present, this biography of the Gulf brings together history, geography, science, and the arts. And it necessarily moves nature into the center of the narrative, since so much of what matters in the Gulf lies at the intersection between human activity and nature’s endeavors. Water, wind, sunshine, fish, even the lowly sponge shaped the course of history here.
The Gulf of Mexico was the country’s first frontier and today, twenty million people live along its U.S. shores. In the course of making the Gulf their own, Americans have dramatically changed nature, and today’s Gulf is arguably the country’s most industrialized sea.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst oil spill in U.S. history, is just one example of how the Gulf has suffered the consequences of society’s dysfunctional relationship with nature. But as Jack Davis argues in this passionate argument for the importance of place, the Gulf is still here, and if we begin to appreciate the historical ties between humanity and nature, we can value them in the present and sustain them for the future.