Strange that these two books should appear so close together, meeting a real need and supplementing each other in an interesting way. I have read the Van Loon first, found him -- as always -- an extraordinary mixture of scholarship and humor, at times approaching levity, and unfailingly readable. His is not an exhaustive chronological history of the Pacific, but a succession of vivid pictures, dramatic moments, colorful personalities, odd bits of lore, together presenting the ""way in which the White Man explored every nook and corner of the Great South Sea"". His emphasis, quite naturally, is on the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch explorers, the problem implicit in their holdings today (though the book was finished last February). And he closes his story with three episodes, -- The South Sea Bubble, Charles Darwin and his voyage on the Beagle, and Paul Gauguin, who introduced the South Seas to a curious world. The book was fun; I learned a lot about the Dutch explorers, Tasman, Van Diemen and others; I particularly enjoyed the section on Capt. Cook. But I finished the book feeling that I need some fillers-in, some connecting links. And I turned to Riesenberg... Here is a serious history, the first title in the Oceans of the World series. The approach is first that of the historian, second that of the biographer, but throughout you get the interpretation of the navigator. His emphasis is not on any one period or people; he traces the opening up of the Pacific, from the days of the Polynesians through Marco Polo, Magelian, the Spanish Conquistadors, the struggle for dominance as the Dutch, the English, the Spanish let exploration make way for plunder. Finally, America, with Wilkes and Perry, with the sealers and the whalers making history. He gave me just the links I needed. Try selling them together.