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Nature Oceans & Seas

Ebb and Flow

Tides and Life on Our Once and Future Planet

by (author) Tom Koppel

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2007
Oceans & Seas, Civilization, Geology
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price

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Ebb and Flow was named one of 2007’s "best science books" by Peter Calamai, science editor of the Toronto Star [Dec. 30, 2007]. He calls it a "wonderful resource book. Tom Koppel seems to have visited or read about every place with unusual tides and water currents, yet he wears this scholarship lightly."

Tides have shaped our world. They have carved out shorelines, transformed early life on Earth, and altered the course of human civilization. Tides frustrated Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and aided General MacArthur. They govern the way our planet moves, provide us with an alternative source of energy, and may be aggravating global climate change.

Drawing on science, history, and personal memories, Koppel’s fascinating book engages and enlightens, demonstrating that a subject we take for granted affects all our lives. He weaves together three grand narratives, exploring how tides impact coasts and marine life, how they have altered human history and development, and how science has striven to understand the surprisingly complex way in which tides actually work.

About the author

Tom Koppel has written popular science articles for newspapers, and for journals such as Canadian Geographic, Equinox, Canadian Living, and Reader's Digest. He is the author of the books Lost World: Rewriting Prehistory -- How New Science is Tracing America's Ice Age Mariners (23); Powering the Future: The Ballard Fuel Cell and the Race to Change the World (1999); and Kanaka: The Untold Story of Hawaiian Pioneers in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest (1995). He lives on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

Tom Koppel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

This book will be of interest to those with affinities for natural history, seafaring, and tides in general - and even tidal scientists will learn a few things about their science.


Ultimately, Koppel's book opens up a new world to those of us who have never really thought about the impact of tides on our lives. It also shows that 300 pages on the subject is no stretch at all.

Times Colonist

Ebb and Flow is a book that has been in the making for more than 20 years ... It's been worth the wait.

Quill and Quire

Despite the formidable complexity of the science of tides, Koppel packages his explanations approachably. You do not need to be a rocket science to understand him, yet everyone-even scientists-will find this book absorbing ... a fascinating mix of science, history and memoir, which is completely entertaining.

Mark Lardas

Koppel successfully walks the line between presenting complex material in a readable way without 'dumbing down' the content. Each chapter opens with an anecdote drawn mostly from Koppel's many experiences on the sea. The stories segue into the chapters, giving life to the science, reiterating the role tides play in everyday existence and putting the reader right into the scene.

Susan Lundy