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Maritime non-fiction / History

Second shipwreck history covers the world wars

Breaking Seas, Broken Ships, by Dr Ian Friel

Breaking Seas Broken ShipsCompleted in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic, Breaking Sea, Broken Ships by Dr Ian Friel has a poignancy that would possibly be missing pre-Covid, for the parallels with earlier disease outbreaks aboard cruise liners, and the inevitable deaths that followed, are very apparent.

A successor to the author's 2020 work Britain and the Ocean Road, this latest volume similarly uses the accounts of a small number of shipwrecks as waypoints to show the development, and decline, of Britain's seagoing powers. Set between 1854 and 2007, it charts the rise and fall of steam, through two world wars, to the dominance of a globalised modern day shipping industry led by massive tankers and container ships.

Expertly researched, with a good mix of historical fact and personal experience, the book quickly immerses the reader into the narrative. A smattering of maps, charts and vessel designs support each 'case' – seven in total. The inclusion of historical photographs of the crew and passengers as well as some of the shipwrecks serves to reinforce the author's comments in his introduction: 'We are none of us insulated from history.'

Breaking Seas, Broken Ships
by Dr Ian Friel
Pen & Sword, £25
ISBN: 978 15267 71500

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