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".