The History of the Ship
The Comprehensive Story of Seafaring from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
This work aims to present the informed reader with a full account of both the technical and cultural development of the ship. Author Richard Woodman draws together the historical strands of each ship type culminating in a summary of contemporary developments and speculation about the future. From the development of the dugout canoe to the very large container carrier (VLCC), the book examines how ships have been used for good and evil throughout history. It starts with descriptions of primitive craft, leading to the early trading vessels and warships. From there, the transition to the first full-rigged ship, the carrack, is discussed. The introduction of steam follows, with details of how the steamship usurped the sailing ship in many of her former roles, allowing sailing vessels to reach their final and prolonged heyday in the tea clipper races. The upheavals of the 20th century with the arrival of the big-gun battleship, aircraft carrier and the nuclear submarine are given comprehensive coverage.
Throughout the book, the impact of the technology on the evolution of the ship is dealt with, putting developments in their economic and political context, and changes in the design of both warships and merchantmen are outlined. Also looked at are the stories of the characters who influenced ship design and the men who commanded them. Richard Woodman is the author of "View from the Sea" and "Convoys".
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Coracle, curragh, and carrack, tramp and dreadnought, opium clipper and Scotch boiler - ships all, and all lovingly detailed in this shrewd encyclopedic history of seafaring (complete with a dash of danger and romance) from Woodman (author of the Captain Drinkwater novels: A Private Revenge, 1990, etc.), who spent his working life under the red ensign. Like all good surveys, this one starts at the beginning, when that earliest water-borne craft pushed beyond the horizon: perhaps, Woodman suggests, Pharaoh Sahure's marauding squadron. That first salty expression of malicious royal puissance was a harbinger of things to come, as ships came to symbolize military and political might - exploring, battling, trading, supplying the great war hosts - that has yet to be fully eclipsed. Woodman hits upon all aspects of nautical history - the search for longitude, developments in hydrography, ship design and argot, seagoing mavericks and forgotten heroes - and has saturated his book with gorgeous maps and cross-sections, color and vintage photographs, and ship portraits. (Kirkus Reviews)