Published by the British Museum, ISBN 0 7141 2718 3, Â£25
It is difficult to approach this history because it sets out to cover too wide a scope for a single volume. The period is from Roman times tot he present day. It certainly does not fill the gap for a maritime history of Ireland. The influence of major maritime events is dipped into for each period and items are short but significant. The style is to illustrate the period or topic in question by a good example while avoiding an attempt to give the overall picture. Nevertheless there are very interesting facts scattered throughout which provide important data on the social aspects of maritime history. Some tables are tantalising. For instance a statistical table of the manpower of the Royal navy 1830-1913 and 1914-2001 illustrates the growth in numbers at the time of various scares and wars. But what about the earlier periods? Similarly some interestinzg figures for number of seamen by some English counties is given but other areas (including Ireland ) omitted. This is a fantastic book to dip into and read interesting items but not a reliable place to find well organised facts. There is an extensive bibliography and the text is well referenced so there is scope for finding further data. On balance well worth having for anyone interested in maritime history.
reviewed by Eddie Bourke
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