Author: Jonathan White, Author

Publisher: Trinity University Press
ISBN: 978-1-59534-805-0

Jonathan White, author of Tides, has a Masters degree in Fine Arts with specialization in Creative Non-fiction. (2017, inside back cover) Previously he wrote for The Sun, Surfer’s Journal, Orion, Sierra, and the Christian Science Monitor. Tides is his second book. Jonathan is an active marine conservationist, surfer, and sailor. He lives with his wife and son on an island off Washington state.

I’ve spent so much of my adult life in, around, and on the water that I found this book very interesting and informative. Like Jonathan I am also a sailor and have been humbled numerous times by the sea.

Tides begins with the Bay of Fundy off of Nova Scotia where White talks about the various birds and the large tides in that region of the world. He observes the sandpipers on the mudflats searching for mudshrimp “…land weak and skinny. But not for long…”. They are heading to South America for the season and they must eat at least 2,500 calories to make that trek. White is working with a friend to catch, mark and weigh the sandpipers.

Next, Johnathan is in Mont Saint-Michel where extreme tides are as normal to the monks as seeing the sun and moon are to the rest of us. Mont Saint-Michel has a forty five foot tidal range which is one of the hugest in the world. (2017, paraphrase p.44) White is there is watch and note the spring tides and full moon, as well as, to speak to the monks. He observes that this monastery was built to serve Archangel Michael where he says “The monument is an eloquent testament to humanities insatiable desire for connection and belonging-to God, to nature, to other humans.” (p.55) Here he ties the lack of mention of tides in the Bible to how adept Moses was at leading the people of Israel out of Egypt back in the 15th century BCE. An astute observation if you ask me.

China is next in the tidal line-up. Jonathan calls this chapter Silver Dragon which is all about the Qiantang River and her tidal bore. I had not heard the term tidal bore previously despite all of the time I have spent on the water. It ushers the tidal flow into the narrow opening of the river. It flows at twenty miles per hour and covers twenty nine feet per second. I find this astonishing. There was a celebration for this tidal bore where thousands of people gather and swim and jump into the river carrying various colorful flags. Before long the water gets to brutal to people drown and the celebration was outlawed.

The following chapters touch on what was known during history about tides and their movement in oceans and seas. It is interesting to reread how Sir Isaac Newton and other scientific minds tackled tides, gravity, the movement of the earth, sun, moon, and other planets. White travels across the world to many remote and populated regions in his essay about tides. I enjoyed this book very much and believe that many others will too.