W.W. Norton & Company

Pulitzer-winning 'The Gulf' captures the glory, history and tragedy of the 'American sea' on Texas' shores

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History. This review was originally posted on March 22, 2017.

In the tradition of Jared Diamond's best-seller Collapse (2004) and Simon Winchester's Atlantic (2010) comes Jack E. Davis' nonfiction epic, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, which strives both to celebrate and defend its subject — the Gulf of Mexico. Its Texas coastline is featured prominently in these pages. Detailed and exhaustive, written in lucid, impeccable prose, The Gulf is a fine work of information and insight, destined to be admired and cited.

It begins with a sweeping history of the early inhabitants, from paleo-Indians dating from the end of the Ice Age up to the arrival of Europeans. Davis then naturally shifts his focus to developments after the discovery of the "New World," particularly the early expeditions of Hernando de Soto and the exploits of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

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