Saturday, March 16, 2024

A History of the World in Twelve Shipwrecks

A History of the World in Twelve Shipwrecks by David Gibbins
4/2/24; 304 pages
St. Martin's Press

A History of the World in Twelve Shipwreck by David Gibbins is a highly recommended history based around 12 shipwrecks written by an expert in both archaeology and diving. In the prologue Gibbons makes it clear that the twelve shipwrecks he covers provide a springboard for looking at the wider historical context. Shipwrecks are unique because it represents a collection of objects used at the time of the shipwreck and thus can be closely dated. This can offer new historical insights into the past. 

The shipwrecks examined are: The Dover Boat constructed in 1575-1520 BC; Royal cargoes at the time of Tutankhamun in 14th century BC and the Uluburun wreck; a Classical Greece wreck off the Aegean coast of Turkey from the 5th century BC;  a shipwreck in the Mediterranean from the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD; 6th century AD Christianity and early Byzantium; Tang China, the Land of Gold, and Addasid Islam in the 9th century AD;  11th century AD Viking warship of King Cnut the Great; the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII, 1545;the Santo Christo de Castello a Dutch ship from 1667; The Royal Anne Galley, 1721; the HMS Terror, 1848; and the SS Gairsoppa, destroyed by a Nazi U-boat in the Atlantic during World War II. (The final version will include illustrations, an index, bibliography, endnotes, and resources.)

These shipwrecks are the starting point to a larger discussion of world history. It is well-researched and includes many ties into a wider historical context of the time the ship would have been sea worthy. The people, the cargo, the spread of the materials they carried and the beliefs they held are all tied together with the 12 significant shipwrecks and the insight they provide into the times in which they sailed. 

Admittedly, I found some of the shipwrecks and their historical context more interesting than others, but A History of the World in Twelve Shipwreck will appeal to those who enjoy history and especially maritime history. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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