Home' Ships and Shipping : December 2009 Contents THE AMERICAN STEEL NAVY
A Photographic History of the U.S.
Navy from the Introduction of the
Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the
Great White Fleet, 1907-1909
By CDR. JOHN D. ALDEN, USN (Ret.)
A big, beautiful picture book of the "coffee
table" kind that camouflages a serious study
of the transition from wood and iron to steel for the hulls of
US Navy ships.
The period described was a particularly dynamic one for
America and its navy. It was when the United States caught up
with the then world leader, Britain, and prepared to pass her less
than half a century later.
Of the usual very high historical standard of almost all the
works published by the Naval Institute Press, this one is enhanced
enormously by its generous inclusion of numerous very high
This particular quarter of a century was a very exciting period.
It is brilliantly described in this very fine book.
Available from the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.
SQUARE RIGGER DAYS
Autobiographies of Sail
Edited by CHARLES W. DOMVILLE-FIFE
Your reviewer had the pleasure of knowing
a handful of square rigger sailors who had
rounded the "Horn" under sail prior to
World War II. One, indeed, was his GP. He
circumnavigated in 1937, the year before
this wonderful book was written.
The editor has done a first rate and very valuable job in
compiling this very well illustrated collection of reminiscences.
The publisher of this updated edition, Seaforth Publishing, have
performed an equally valuable service in producing this fine book.
While clear eyed and factual, the book, nevertheless,
captures perfectly the romance, mystique and excitement of
large sailing vessels.
Life aboard, of course, was often far from romantic but it is
perceptively and accurately described by a well selected collection
of very good writers.
A very high class effort.
Available from Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, UK.
THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE
Darwin's extraordinary adventure
aboard FitzRoy's famous survey ship
By JAMES TAYLOR
A handsomely presented, high quality,
hard cover book, this is the first attempt to
consolidate all aspects of the famous
voyage that led to Darwin's vital "On the
Origin of Species".
That book, arguably one of the most important in the history of
humanity, was not just "created". Nor was it created overnight,
indeed not even in six days! It was the culmination of decades of
reading, study, travel, observation, measurements and recording
by a large group of scientifically inquisitive people.
All this is pulled together in the magnificently illustrated book.
The voyages of Columbus, Magellan, Cook, Vancouver, Drake, von
Humboldt and many others were all vital to the development of
the world but Darwin, carried by the 'Beagle', in effect tied them
This brilliant book effectively ties Charles Darwin and his
Available from Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.
MIDWAY DAUNTLESS VICTORY
Fresh Perspective on America's
Seminal Naval Victory of War War II
By PETER C. SMITH
The battle of Midway has been controversial
ever since it was in progress. This very
carefully researched and very well presented
book will add considerably to the controversy.
The author is a very experienced and prolific maritime
historian. He has apparently put much more time and effort into
this book than his previous titles.
This research has been valuable and it shows. Not content to
follow the party line on conventional wisdom, he has delved deep
and wide and uncovered considerable new and valuable material.
In particular, he has included a number of previously
unpublished eye-witness accounts along with considerable new
material from Japanese sources. His bibliography is incredibly
extensive and reflects the breadth of his research.
It is very clearly pointed out, as the book's title emphasises, that
the battle was a close run one, for the winner. Above all, it was the
US Navy's Dauntless dive bombers and their courageous crews that
turned disaster into victory in the space of five minutes.
A gem in the military historians' crown.
Available from Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley, UK.
By TERENCE COGHLIN,
ANDREW W. BAKER, JULIAN KENNY
and JOHN D. KIMBALL
With six editions spread over two decades,
two things are obvious about this book. There
is obviously a strong need for the information
it contains. Secondly, that content is constantly changing.
Obviously, also, the content also becomes ever more highly
refined. It also becomes increasingly global and the subject
In 39 very detailed chapters the Sixth Edition is undoubtedly
state-of-the-art. It is also completely comprehensive. Every
imaginable development in this fast moving branch of maritime law
is covered. Hundreds of cases, well known and obscure, are cited.
The law of time charters is old law, historic law. Much of it goes
back to the ancient Greeks, if not the Egyptians. It has, however,
been constantly updated resulting in ever increasing complexity. This
indispensable text provides a chart showing the way through it.
Available from Informa Law, London, UK. Web: www.informalaw.com
The Real Pirate of the Caribbean
By DAN PARRY
With piracy, mainly of the Somalian variety,
being front page news at present, this book
of a TV series is particularly topical.
Blackbeard, of course, is probably the best
known pirate in human history. Innumerable books and movies
have focussed on him and his exploits.
This book is associated with a TV series put together by the BBC
and the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich near London.
For two years in the early eighteenth century Edward Thatch,
a.k.a. Blackbeard, terrorised the Caribbean. His heavily armed flotilla
was, for a time, beyond the law. It struck terror wherever it sailed. He
enjoyed a reputation and used it to further his quest for booty.
Much of this story is myth but the author and his colleagues
have managed to pull together a considerable amount of fact so as
to give this fascinating tale a measure of credibility. Essentially, it
shows that 300 years later not much has changed.
Available from Wakerfield Press, Kent Town, Australia.
SHIPS AND SHIPPING December 2009 37
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