Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Conquest of the Ocean: An Illustrated History of Seafaring

Today's nonfiction post is on The Conquest of the Ocean: An Illustrated History of Seafaring by Brian Lavery. It is 400 pages long including a bibliography, index, and acknowledgments. It is published by DK. The cover is white with a golden sextant on it. The intended reader is someone who wants to know more about seafaring and the ocean. There is no sex, no language, and some descriptions of violence on this book. The story is told from third person with dairies, letters, and other first person narratives added in. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- For many years, the oceans that cover most of our planet were considered unimportant- even as late as the 19th century the naturalist Charles Darwin dismissed them as 'a tedious waste, a desert of water.'
Yet the oceans have had a huge influence on our history, whether offering the possibility of migration or exploration, providing a livelihood and sustenance, enabling trade and transportation, hosting some of the most strategically important battles ever fought, or sparking a new generation of science and technology.
The Conquest of the Ocean explores the agonies, achievements, and adventures of sailors and their ships. What impact did the invention of the sea clock have on the life of a sailor? How did a man breaking his leg in Ohio lead to the birth of oceanography? Which naval leader dismissed the idea of a submarine as foolish?
Drawing on his expertise as one of the world's leading naval historians, Brain Lavery weaves together eyewitness accounts and illustrations to bring these stories of the sea vividly to life. Using paintings, photographs, maps, and objects alongside anecdotes and firsthand reports, he picks out key episodes in the history of seafaring and celebrates the experiences that have defined how our relationship with the sea has evolved.

Review- As someone who loves the ocean and was raised by a marine biologist, the history of the sea is interesting to me. Lavery does a good job with this broad topic. He takes the reader from the beginnings of seafaring all the way to present day. With the full maps, pictures, and art the images just become more defined. Using his sources wisely, Lavery helps the reader understand how important the ocean has been and will continue to be to humanity. Watching the evolution of sailing was interesting too. To go from ships that could only partly sail and partly be rowed to most advanced yachts of today over the course of the book. This book could have been overwhelming in its information, going from the beginnings of seafaring all the way to modern day, but Lavery keeps that under control. He gives the reader an overview of the topic but not every little detail. Still at times the chapters were very long with lots of names, places, and dates. Very interesting and good read.
I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.