Log in

Log in

Book Review, NRJ 68.4

May 05, 2024 5:01 AM | JAMES HATCH (Administrator)

Shipwrecks in 100 Objects

By Simon Wills

A concise book of one hundred  chapters, each one to two pages long, including pictures and/or images referencing each event. This book covers shipwrecks from across several hundred years and some of the objects and people associated with them, from the Mary Rose in 1545 to the much more recent Herald of Free Enterprise in 1994 and the Marchioness on the River Thames in 1989.

Also included are chapters on how safety was improved over time due to ships being badly equipped and crews and staff inadequately trained. It explains how life preservers were invented and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was formed to help those in peril on the sea. There are also chapters about sea serpents, pirate ships, U-boats and people surviving for incredible lengths of time in lifeboats or clinging to pieces of floating wreckage.

Naturally, all the big stories are included, such as TitanicLusitania, and London. But the book also covers smaller shipwrecks that devastated small fishing villages. It does also incorporate the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa flow. There are also chapters on some of the famous people who were involved in some of these events.

The author has kept each chapter short and has laid each chapter out like a newspaper article but still manages to pack in large amounts of information about each shipwreck, the reason it happened, what if any conclusions were reached at any inquiries, the death toll if known, and the survivors if there were any.

All in all, a very enjoyable book to read, not weighed down with too much information on each subject but enough to pique the reader’s interest and keep them reading.

It is revelatory to learn how safety equipment was invented and brought into use, how the lifesaving services were started and developed., and just how common shipwrecks were back in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, almost always accompanied by an incredible loss of life that sometimes can only be guessed at because records were not always well kept at that time. The memorials to lives lost and also to those who risked or indeed gave their lives to help others are also interesting.

Highly recommended if you are interested in anything nautical, especially shipwrecks of any kind.

  • Barnsley: Frontline Books 2022
  • 7” x 10”, hardcover, 221 pages
  • Illustrations, index. $49.95
  • ISBN: 9781528792211

Reviewed by: Margaret Evans, University of Southern Carolina

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software