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Book Review: Fifty Ships and 100 Objects

This week we have two similar books that use a number of case studies to provide a broad understanding of maritime history. This kind of book is very popular at the moment with publishers, and these are two very good examples.

Fifty-Ships-Change-HistoryFifty Ships that Changed the Course of History
Ian Graham
Firefly Books, Hardcover, 223 pp.

This book is beautifully printed. Physically, it is lovely to hold, and to read. Each of the fifty has four pages, with lots of illustrations, images, and maps. Examples of the ships are Khufu’s barge, a Roman wine trade vessel, HMS Victory and the USS Enterprise. The majority of the ships covered are from the 19th century on, and it does focus on mainly European, and North American ships. There are exceptions, such as Zheng He’s treasure ships and the Yamato. There’s also good balance between warships and non-warships. This is a great gift for somebody who likes ships and how they influence their times.


A History of Sailing in 100 Objects
Barry Pickthall
Adlard Coles Nautical, Hardcover 223 pp

The sheer diversity of objects examined is probably the most distinctive feature of this book. It includes objects from all aspects of sailing, including ships, equipment, paintings, drawings, sculpture and even locations. This deserves pride of place on your coffee table, and it’ll give you hours of enjoyment. It has a satisfying weight to it, and the paper feels really nice under your fingers as you flip through it. This book will serve as a really effective vector for inspiring somebody to learn more about the material history of sailing.


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