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The History of the Ship
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The ship is one of the greatest accomplishments of the human race. That we have used it to travel to new and mysterious lands, vanquish our enemies and trade for exotic goods in distant ports make its history very rich indeed. The purpose of this book is to present the informed reader, who has an interest in ships, with a full account of both the technical and cultural development of this most fascinating and influential invention. The author, Richard Woodman, has drawn together the historical strands of each ship-type to produce a thoroughly compelling account culminating in a summary of contemporary developments and speculation about the future.

Whether for good or evil, we have used the ship in our struggle to dominate the world around us, accomplishing spectacular feats of courage and exploration, exploiting and destruction. From the development of the dugout canoe to the very large container carrier we have created the largest mobile structures on the planet. The book 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 is clarified with details on how this gradual process, although finally allowing the steamship to usurp the sailing ship in many of her former roles, allowed sailing vessels to reach their final and prolonged heyday in the colourful tea clipper races. The upheavals of the twentieth 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 technology on the evolution of the ship is dealt with logically to put developments in their economic and political contexts, and changes in the design of both warships and merchantmen are outlined. Entwined with this history are the stories of the characters who influenced ship design and the men who commanded them.

The book in general follows the arguments propounded in Conway's highly praised History of the Ship series: these are underpinned with the author's many years of seagoing experience and numerous fiction and non-fiction writings on maritime topics. Whilst dealing with a hugely complex subject, the author presents his truly international thesis in a highly readable and enlightening manner. The book is complete with a full glossary and extensive bibliography.

Author: Richard Woodman

Over 300 colour and b&w illustrations
352 pages
Reprint - March 1999
295 x 248 mm

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To order, call:
+44 (0)1905 776 073
Or buy online at

To order, call:
+44 (0)1905 776 073
Or buy online at