"A journey into the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, as experienced by explorers, scientists, and artists The Great Barrier Reef is the most spectacular marine environment on earth, a true wonder of the world. Yet the history of our encounters with it has long been elusive. In The Reef, the acclaimed historian and explorer Iain McCalman recounts in full the dramatic story of the reef and the people who have been captivated by it for two centuries. The Reef is a narrative told through the lives of twenty intrepid souls, from Captain James Cook and his voyage across a mysterious coral maze to the world's leading reef scientist, John "Charlie" Veron, whose personal mission is to rescue the reef from catastrophe. The extraordinary individuals in the book--not only explorers and scientists but also beachcombers, photographers, divers, and indigenous peoples and the castaways they adopted--were drawn to the reef for different reasons, but all shared one thing: a passion for this vast coral country. As McCalman explores how the reef has been seen variously as a labyrinth of terror, a nurturing heartland, a scientific challenge, and a fragile global wonder, he argues that it is only by combining science and art that we will truly appreciate how this great gift of nature has shaped us and why it demands our attention. A classic work of romantic history, blending cutting-edge science with personal reflection and gorgeous images, The Reef is a beautiful book that will speak to broad audiences for years to come."