BOOK REVIEW | A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks

By Stewart Gordon

Covering the very lengthy period from 6,000 BC to 2012 AD, these well described and carefully selected shipwreck stories certainly do offer an excellent, if a little abridged, history of the world. Ever since visiting the brilliant marine archaeology museum in Bodrum, Turkey, many years ago, your reviewer has been convinced that its specialty offers some of the most useful and, perhaps oddly, best preserved artefacts available from historical study.

The author of this very useful work has certainly re-enforced that view. His choice of wrecked vessels may, at first glance, appear illogically eclectic. It is not, however. There is a logical thread throughout. It mostly ties together the economic purpose of the selected ships so as to confirm their place in history.

Even his final shipwreck, that of the Costa Concordia, an American/Israeli owned cruise ship that was lost in the Mediterranean to gross human error, incorporates international trade, international and maritime law, seamanship, contracts, naval architecture, life-saving equipment and common sense. It also led to significant loss of life, as have most shipwrecks.

Despite the last ship, the author has studiously avoided focusing on the Mediterranean and, so, has ensured a truly wide coverage of the involvement of shipping throughout human history. Shipping has, after all, very importantly facilitated human development.

Available from Fore Edge Books, Lebanon, NH, USA.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.