Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History by Ian Graham

This fascinating volume caught my attention on the “new books” display here at the library, and I’m quite glad I took the time to give it a second look. For as much information as it contains, this is a fairly compact book. As the title indicates, this volume focuses on 50 specific sea-going vessels (as opposed to types or classes of ships), which had significant impacts on world history.

Beginning with Pharaoh Khufu’s Solar Barge (launched in Old Kingdom Egypt in approximately 2566 BCE) and ending with the MS Allure of the Seas (launched in Finland in 2009), each vessel gets a four-page spread. First, there is a technical chart, explaining the type of ship it was, when it was first launched, it’s length and tonnage, what is was constructed from, and its method of propulsion. The remainder of the four pages is dedicated to a somewhat detailed description of the history of the ship, and why it is historically significant. Each entry also features both black & white and color illustrations — either paintings or drawings, or photographs.

In most cases, the ships’ historical importance is due to the actions of that ship and her crew, although in a few cases, it is because of a significant passenger that the ship carried in its voyages. Examples of some of the ships in this volume include: The Santa Maria, the Mayflower, the HMS Endeavour, the HMS Beagle (carrying Charles Darwin), the Amistad, the America, the USS Monitor, the Cutty Sark, the Potemkin, the HMS Dreadnought, the RMS Lusitania, the RMS Titanic, the U-21, the Bismarck, the Yamato, the USS Missouri, Kon-Tiki, Rainbow Warrior, the USS Enterprise, and DSV Alvin…plus 30 others!

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in naval history, but don’t want to dedicate yourself to a lengthy volume about the history of a specific ship, this volume allows you to dip your toe into that rich history. I particularly appreciated the little sidebar articles scattered throughout the book, that tie the individual ships into the broader scope of history. I also appreciated that the book looks at ships from multiple cultures and regions of the world. The only disappointing thing for me was in what wasn’t there — so many other significant ships that could have been included, but the author had to limited himself to only 50! A fascinating read!

[ official Fifty Ships That Changed the Course of History web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

No comments: