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Publisher's Summary

A compelling history of seashells and the animals that make them, revealing what they have to tell us about nature, our changing oceans, and ourselves.

Seashells have been the most coveted and collected of nature's creations since the dawn of humanity. They were money before coins, jewelry before gems, art before canvas.

In The Sound of the Sea, acclaimed environmental author Cynthia Barnett blends cultural history and science to trace our long love affair with seashells and the hidden lives of the mollusks that make them. Spiraling out from the great cities of shell that once rose in North America to the warming waters of the Maldives and the slave castles of Ghana, Barnett has created an unforgettable account of the world's most iconic seashells. She begins with their childhood wonder, unwinds surprising histories like the origin of Shell Oil as a family business importing exotic shells, and charts what shells and the soft animals that build them are telling scientists about our warming, acidifying seas. From the eerie calls of early shell trumpets to the evolutionary miracle of spines and spires and the modern science of carbon capture inspired by shell, Barnett circles to her central point of listening to nature's wisdom-and acting on what seashells have to say about taking care of each other and our world.

©2021 Cynthia Barnett (P)2021 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Roderic Drake
  • 24-08-2021

Great book, well read

Intelligent and fascinating investigation of how shells have helped form the human societies we life in. And an window into how beautiful creatures in the sea can help us deal with the challenges of the future (or the the sad price we will pay if not).

Narrator was very good.

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  • Norman P. Lewis
  • 04-08-2021

A Deep and Fascinating Dive

Cynthia Barnett is a colleague at the University of Florida, and I know her work to be of the highest quality. Still, that did not prepare me to enjoy this audiobook so much that I raced to finish it. It showed me animals and places about which I knew far less than I had thought. It introduced me to scientists, and especially women, whose contributions have benefitted humanity. It relied on data while always translating it into human terms. It mixed history and science in a way I’ve rarely encountered. Best of all, the storytelling made me care more about the sea and how we treat nature -- and as a result, re-evaluate my role in it. The narration is excellent as well. Highly recommended.

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  • lisa decker
  • 30-07-2021

Good, educational listen

Good listen for those interested in natural history, anthropology, world history, ecology, marine biology, conservation and woman’s role in the sciences.

The author covers a lot in this book, and I feel like she strays off topic here and there, especially when diving into the personal backgrounds of scientists or other specific persons discussed. Those parts of the book did not hold my interest, but she manages to get back on topic easily, and draw me back in.

Overall, I found this book interesting, and the reader was better than most. She has kind of a sing-songy way of speaking, but you do get used to it. Better than monotone or overly dramatic…

This is the third book in the Atlas Obscura book club, and the first choice that I’ve actually enjoyed.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.