Based on the recommendations on this thread I ordered it for my Kindle and I loved it. I read it straight through. Classic Winchester, informative, entertaining, and even a bit philosophic at times. Like Lidja and Chris, I have read several other books by Simon Winchester, including "The Professor and the Madman", "A Crack in the Edge of the World", "Krakatoa", and "The Alice Behind Wonderland". I enjoy the new history and the new facts that I never was aware of before reading Winchester - I also like his "British Accent"
Another writer that I have enjoyed greatly is David Roberts. He has written many, many books, about climbing, exploration and the desert southwest and other parts of the world. He started his life as a mountaineer while a student at Harvard, with many first ascents in Alaska after graduation. The first books of his that grabbed me were "In Search of the Old Ones" and "Sandstone Spine -Seeking the Anasazi on the First Traverse of Comb Ridge" because a dozen years ago I was riding and exploring a bit in southern Utah around Bluff and Blanding, mostly chasing petroglyphs and pictographs. I liked those books so much that I have read most of his work. Another that fascinated me was "Four Against the Arctic - Shipwrecked for six years at the top of the world" about 4 Russian sailors abandoned on Svalbard ( Spitzbergen) - Edgeøya in May of 1743 - and surviving for 6 years in the high Arctic with out any tools or firearms, killing polar bears with spears at times. Svalbard has the highest concentration of polar bears per square kilometer in the world. How do you survive scurvy - lack of Vit C - on the high arctic with no green plantlife? Roberts went to northern Russia to research the story which was unknown in the west, but the survivors went before the Czar in St Petersburg in 1749 so the tale was well documented in old Russia. Then Roberts decided to spend a month on Svalbard. This book is what led me to go looking for polar bears in Svalbard in 2016. I recommend a visit to Svalbard highly, the light in the high arctic is gorgeous. David Roberts latest book "Limits of the Known" is largely a reflection of his own imminent mortality - he was diagnosed with throat cancer, stage 4 in 2015, but has continued to travel and write as well as he can. Reminds me of another author with throat cancer that continued to write until near death - Ulysses S Grant, who's autobiography is worth reading as is his recent biography by Ron Chernow, who felt that Grant was the man who made Lincoln's proclamation of freeing the slaves, a fact, and an Amendment to the Constitution and hence a reality.
I am rambling now but always interested in discovering new well written and informative books.
I loved the early books of "The Expanse" more than the later ones.