Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
The Way of the Ship is a reference book that reexamines our maritime past from its earliest days to the twenty-first century. The authors divide this history into five parts. “When Shipping Was King” examines the years from our first colonies through the American Revolution. Among the topics included in this section are Richard Hakluyt’s maritime plantations, coastal commerce, life as a sailor, and how independence affected our shipping commerce. “A World within Themselves” looks at our river and coastal trade from 1783 to 1861. It contrasts the ports of Salem and New Orleans, and examines the contributions of such men as Robert Livingston, Robert Fulton, Henry Shreve, DeWitt Clinton, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. “Maritime Industry and Labor in the Gilded Age” concentrates on the years from 1861 to 1914, paying particular attention to industrialization, the Confederate commerce raider Alabama, Cornelius Vanderbilt, national maritime policy, and the rise of unions. Stepping slightly back in time, “The Weight of War” covers 1905 to 1956. Its primary focus is maritime trade in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans before, during, and after the two world wars. The final section, “Megaship,” looks at bulk carriers, container shipping, how ports have changed since 1956, and cruise ships. Throughout this volume the roles that economics, government policy, labor, the military, and technology have played are examined from both global and local perspectives.
The book concludes with four appendices, a well-defined glossary, a bibliographic essay, extensive chapter notes, and a comprehensive index. Pictures, maps, and charts illustrate the text throughout, but the paintings of marine artist John Stobart are the icing on the cake. These color images bring the ships and ports to life, allowing us a brief, but vivid, glimpse into our maritime past.
When I opened this book, I expected it would be a dry presentation. Instead The Way of the Ship is a fascinating account of our country’s maritime history. Which author wrote what chapter is never a question I asked because these three historians have a single voice. Their presentation is down-to-earth and easily understood by readers with little maritime knowledge. From the first sentence of the introduction through the final paragraph of the epilogue, the book captivates our attention and, when the last page is turned, we have a far better understanding of the people, ships, ports, and events that shaped America’s maritime commerce and history.
Review copyrighted © 2008 Cindy Vallar
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