Subtitled 'The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth' this is a chronological look at the development of thinking about tides. It covers mythology, science, natural history, art and social issues around tides from the times of ancient Greece to the present day. The historical narrative is interspersed with the author's observations of tides in various oceans.
Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt were all situated in areas around the Mediterranean, which doesn't have major tides so the tides as such didn't play hugely significant roles in these cultures, until the Romans expanded their Empire beyond the Mediterranean (and found the tides a significant obstacle to invading Britain). The first significant scientific research into tides took place in the area that is now India.
Tides obviously have a profound influence on the wildlife of the coast, particularly the intertidal area (the area between low tide and high tide that is constantly being deluged by water then drying out). The book contains a fascinating chapter examining how wildlife responds to changing tides, from the feeding behaviour of wading birds such as knots to the breeding cycle of the grunion, a fish that lays its eggs on the beaches of California.
Tides have played major roles in war (e.g. the D-Day landings), tragedies (e.g. the death of 23 cockle pickers on Morecombe Bay in 2004), historical turning points (e.g. The Boston Tea Party) and the reshaping of geography. Historically tides have always eaten away at coastlines, but in these days of climate chaos, this effect of the tides is increasing. Tidal defences have been built in many places, while in others the tides are harnessed to generate electricity.
Tides have influenced artistic creations too, including Handel's Water Music (composed for an event that took place on the water) and Telemann's Water Music, which was more of a creative response to the water itself.
This is a fascinating insight into the power and nature of the tide and it very effectively synthesizes knowledge from many different areas. However, I would have liked more coverage of the environmental issues affecting our oceans, particularly plastic pollution.