The Destin History and Fishing Museum will host author John S. Sledge, who wrote “The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History,” from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 21 for a booksigning. The museum is at 108 Stahlman Avenue in Destin.


“The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History” presents a compelling, salt-streaked narrative of the earth’s 10th largest body of water. In this beautifully written and illustrated volume, Sledge explores the people, ships, and cities that have made the Gulf’s human history and culture so rich.


Many famous figures who sailed the Gulf’s viridian waters are highlighted, including Ponce de León, Robert Cavelier de La Salle, Francis Drake, Elizabeth Agassiz, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Dwight Sigsbee at the helm of the doomed Maine.


Sledge also introduces a fascinating array of people connected to maritime life in the Gulf, among them Maya priests, French pirates, African American stevedores, and Greek sponge divers.


Gulf events of global historical importance are detailed, such as the only defeat of armed and armored steamships by wooden sailing vessels, the first accurate deep-sea survey and bathymetric map of any ocean basin, the development of shipping containers by a former truck driver frustrated with antiquated loading practices, and the worst environmental disaster in American history.


Occasionally shifting focus ashore, Sledge explains how people representing a gumbo of ethnicities built some of the world’s most exotic cities — Havana, way station for conquistadors and treasure-filled galleons; New Orleans, the Big Easy, famous for its beautiful French Quarter, Mardi Gras, and relaxed morals; and oft-besieged Veracruz, Mexico’s oldest city, founded in 1519 by Hernán Cortés.


In the modern era the Gulf has become critical to energy production, fisheries, tourism, and international trade, even as it is threatened by pollution and climate change. “The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History” is a work of verve and sweep that illuminates both the risks of life on the water and the riches that come from its bounty.