Portrait of the Gulf Stream

Érik Orsenna / Translated by Moishe Black

‘The French author Érik Orsenna ‘collects currents’ in the way that other people collect butterflies or stamps. He has been in love with them since his childhood’ 
The Guardian

‘Orsenna’s subject is timely, but the snippets of historical record, quizzical journeys to find where the Stream starts and stops, and digressions into the deep past make this an occasionally charming curio’
Financial Times

‘…a near seamless blend of travel, science and literary reportage, a peerless portrait of a force of nature.’
Times Literary Supplement


As a child in Bréhat, an island off the coast of Brittainy, Érik Orsenna was taught to give thanks for the Gulf Stream, the Atlantic Ocean current that brings warmth to the waters of Europe and gives us our relatively benign climate.

From Cape Hatteras in North Carolina to the legendary Maelström off Norway, Orsenna meets scientists and scholars in an attempt to uncover where this powerful ocean current begins and ends and whether global warming will stop its flow.

Spanning thousands of years of history, Portrait of the Gulf Stream weaves between poetry and science to trace the influence of this current on Europe’s culture and climate.

ÉRIK ORSENNA is Goncourt prize-winning novelist, sailor, economist, jurist, former presidential adviser (to Mitterrand), member of the Conseil d’État and one of the 40 ‘‘immortals’’ of the Académie Française, where he holds the seat formerly held by Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He is the author of The Indies Enterprise.

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