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Simon Winchester - Author

About the Author

Simon Winchester was born and educated in England, has lived in Africa, India and Asia, and now lives in New York.
 

Having reported from almost everywhere during an award-winning twenty-year career as a Guardian foreign correspondent, he is currently the Asia-Pacific editor for Condé Nast Traveler and contributes to a number of American magazines, as well as to the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and the BBC.

 

Simon Winchester's books include Outposts: Travels to the Remains of the British Empire; Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles; The Pacific; Pacific Nightmare, a fictional account of the aftermath of the Hong Kong hand-over; Prison Diary, Argentina, the story of three months spent in a Patagonian jail on spying charges during the Falklands war; The River at the Centre of the World - A Journey Up the Yangtze, Back in Chinese Time, The Surgeon of Crowthorne, The Fracture Zone and The Map That Changed the World.

 

Photograph © Marion Ettlinger

Featured books by Simon Winchester

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation. For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum - out of many, one - has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become 'one nation, indivisible'? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America. Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers - some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known - who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. 'The Men Who United the States' is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

ebook of the month

Other books by Simon Winchester

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/05/2019

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2018 Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Exactly

Exactly

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 08/05/2018

Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world?Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John 'Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/05/2018

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2018 Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/04/2018

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2018 Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Base Nation How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World

Base Nation How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/10/2017

American military bases encircle the globe. More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States still stations its troops at nearly a thousand locations in foreign lands. These bases are usually taken for granted or overlooked entirely, a little-noticed part of the Pentagon's vast operations. But in an eye-opening account, Base Nation shows that the worldwide network of bases brings with it a panoply of ills and actually makes the nation less safe in the long run. As David Vine demonstrates, the overseas bases raise geopolitical tensions and provoke widespread antipathy towards the United States. They also undermine American democratic ideals, pushing the United States into partnerships with dictators and perpetuating a system of second-class citizenship in territories such as Guam. They breed sexual violence, destroy the environment, and damage local economies. And their financial cost is staggering: though the Pentagon underplays the numbers, Vine's accounting proves that the bill approaches $100 billion per year. For many decades, the need for overseas bases has been a quasi-religious dictum of U.S. foreign policy. But in recent years, a bipartisan coalition has finally started to question this conventional wisdom. With the United States withdrawing from Afghanistan and ending thirteen years of war, there is no better time to re-examine the tenets of our military strategy. Base Nation is an essential contribution to that debate.

The Alice Behind Wonderland

The Alice Behind Wonderland

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2016

On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London. Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image-as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation-as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice. Acclaim for Simon Winchester An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity. -Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly. -USA Today Extraordinarily graceful. -Time Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur. -Christopher Buckley A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher. -Newsweek

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/09/2016

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/10/2015

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Pacific

Pacific

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 22/10/2015

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2015

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation. For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum - out of many, one - has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become 'one nation, indivisible'? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America. Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers - some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known - who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. 'The Men Who United the States' is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

ebook of the month
Alice Behind Wonderland

Alice Behind Wonderland

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 24/05/2011

On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image--as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation--as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "e;Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid"e; than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.

Atlantic A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

Atlantic A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 25/11/2010

The epic life story of the Atlantic Ocean from the bestselling author, Simon Winchester For thousands of years the Atlantic Ocean was viewed by mariners with a mixture of awe, terror and amazement - an impassable barrier to the unknown. In recent times, as we fly high above it without so much as bothering to look down, this vast sea has been reduced to the status of a mere passageway between continents - 'the pond'. It is easy to forget that the Atlantic has been the setting for some of the most important exchanges, ideas and challenges in the history of civilisation - a fulcrum around which the power and influence of the modern world has long been distributed. In this narrative tour de force, Simon Winchester dramatises the life story of the Atlantic, from its birth in the farther recesses of geological time to its eventual extinction millions of years in the future. At the heart of the book is the story of humankind's evolving attitude to and relationship with the ocean. For millennia it has shaped the lives and cultures of those who have lived along its shores and have navigated its waters. Travelling around its edges and across its huge expanse, Winchester reports from the places that encapsulate the Atlantic's most fascinating stories - the age of exploration and the colonisation of the Americas; the rise and fall of the slave trade, and the flourishing of transatlantic commerce; extraordinary tales of sea-borne emigration; and the great naval battles that have left an indelible imprint on Atlantic history. The result is an utterly enthralling mixture of history, science and reportage from a master of narrative non-fiction, and an exhilarating account of a magnificent body of water.

Man Who Loved China

Man Who Loved China

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 06/05/2008

In sumptuous and illuminating detail Simon Winchester chronicles the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who turned his eccentric genius on the study of China. In 1937 Joseph Needham fell in love with a visiting Chinese student. He soon became fascinated by China, and his mistress persuaded him to travel to her home country. Thus began his undying passion for the worlds most populous nation.Needham tackled one of the great, unanswered historical questions: Why did a nation that had invented so much and had enjoyed 5,000 years of flourishing civilization, fail to undergo an industrial revolution, and instead spend so many modern years mired in poverty and racked by instability and revolution? By the time he died, Needham had produced seventeen immense volumes on China, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopaedist ever.Both epic and intimate, The Man Who Loved China tells the sweeping history of China through Needham's remarkable life. Here is an unforgettable tale by one of the world's inimitable storytellers.

A Crack in the Edge of the World The Great American Earthquake of 1906

A Crack in the Edge of the World The Great American Earthquake of 1906

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/04/2006

A burgeoning new city is built on the dreams of the American gold rush. It is also built upon a landscape that has been stretching, sliding and breaking apart for millennia. In 1906 the dreams of this city came crashing down beneath the rippling wave of a horrifying earthquake that turned roads into great rippling rivers, that set buildings ablaze for days on end, that made homes collapse upon themselves. Simon Winchester's breathtaking story delves deep beneath the surface of the earth and explains to us why the world moves as it does; and breaks apart with such devastating results. At the same time he never lets us forget the human story: what happened in this new, seemingly blessed city on the 18th April 1906. As he vividly portrays the lives of the people who suffered and survived the devastation he also tells a universal story: the hubris of man as he ignores the warnings of nature and how we respond and try to understand the world around us. Compelling, moving and enlightening, Simon Winchester brings to light the world beneath our feet and through the story of this one terrifying event one hundred years ago, begins to make sense of our world now.