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steam technology. The first purpose-buil t and the like-the decisive events that have Jon Latimer, 1812: war with America facto ry trawler, the Fairtry, slid off Scottish shaped the history of just about everything (Cambridge, MA, The Belknap Press of the ways, as did the Cutty Sark, the Q ueen Mary, else. The writers of this volume, in an effort H arvard University Press, 2007, 637pp, ilthe Lusitania and Robert Falcon Sco tt's to condense 400 years of Ameri can m ari- lus, notes, biblio, index, ISBN 978-0-674D iscovery. time history into fewer than 500 pages, 02584-4, $35 hc) Yet, because Davidson covers so much, have removed the naval as pects altogether The War of 18 12 was said to be a sechis book ends up a bit d ry. Even the dedi- and foc used solely on the co mmercial side ond war of independence that defin ed the cated reader might struggle through the of this history. Even so, there is little room, United States. W hen the smoke cleared, march of kings and queens and the rise and even in 500 pages, to offer mo re than the however, the result was rhat it defin ed Canfall of shipping lines . In his preface, David- significant highlights. The authors have ada. Jo n Latimer's 1812 examines this conson explains m at Scots and the Sea is "not a done a credible job, elabo rating on some fli ct that, when it fin ally ended, few were wo rk of original historical research ." D espi te face ts and simply m entioning others. The able to defin e what it was about. Latimer's the discl aimer, a couple questionable fac ts book is sponso red by the Ame rican M ari- book is unique in that it is largely written are difficult to overlook, and he occasion- time History Project, a no n-profit organi- from the Canadian and British viewpoints, ally mounts a somewhat rando m soapbox, zation in N ew York, and was underwritten arguably the fo rgo tten "winners." such as a digressio n on drug smuggling. by a host of maritime interests and individ1812 is a blow-by-blow tale of a misuals, which might understood war, a series of campaigns Th e reader of the paperback edition w ill be disappointed because help to explain why fo ught on tidewater land, frontier fo res ts, it has no maps, photographs, or so me areas received vas t oceans and freshwater lakes. The auillustratio ns, and the editor n emore attention than tho r largely describes the war's innumerable glected to remove a few refe ren co thers. raids and blockades through the eyes of its es to them that must have been Starting with generals and priva tes, admirals and seam en, printed in the hardcover ve rsio n. the premise that wa- and the people involved on all sides of the ter transport has al- conflict. His tightly constructed narrative These very minor complaints aside, however, D avidson has d eways been the leas t leads the reader through seemingly dispalivered an exceptionally val uable expensive method rate political and military actions in studi reference text, a perfect startof moving freight, ous detail, but sometimes, unfortunately, in ing point for any work of Scotthe book follows unexpected superficiality. La timer's sentenctish-or British- m aritime histhe development es in the earlier chapters are overly complex to ry, or even fo r understanding of the commercial and excessively long, and they distract from contem porary m arine policy in maritime industry, the impact of his points. H e frequently the U nited Kingdom. By confro m the Pilgrims' mentions combatants, who appear once or tras t, it too k over a dozen auth ors to create trading along the coast to the ultra-large on ly briefl y in the book, giving the reader Mystic Seaport's tome, America and the Sea. container- and oil transports of today and the un co mfo rtable feeling of drowning in Their text is not meant to be read cover-to- the infras tructure they require. Much at- historical minutia. Finally, while 1812 covcover either, and it is nearly twice as long as ten tion is paid, appro priately, to the build- ers the histo ry of that war in detail, Latimer Scots and the Sea- which must m ake Mr. up of the American shipping industry as focuses heavily o n the lake battles o n the D avidso n smile, since Scotland has several a result of both Wo rld Wars and the sub- Canadian border. His descriptions of the hundred years more recorded m ari time his- sequent decline to "also-ran" status in the clashes at sea are not nearly as thorough. tory than any wee bairn of a country like present times . O ne of the most interesting If ship battles on salt water are mo re what the U ni ted States. points the autho rs make is that, for most of yo u are after, perhaps Ian Toil's excellent Six RrcHARD KING our history, so-called "brown-water" ship- Frigates is a m ore appropriate choice. BetSt. Andrews, Scotland ping exceeded oceanic shipping in bo th ter yet, the pair combined will give readers volume and value. They refer to America the two-p ro nged approach towards underThe way of the Ship: America's Maritime as a "brown-wa ter nation with a blue-water standing the theaters of this conflict. History Reenvisioned, 1600-2000 by Alex conscio usness." In spite of some quibbling points, 1812 Roland, W. Jeffery Bolster, an d Alexander I would no t reco mmend the wo rk as is full of scholarly insights. A selected bibKeyssa r (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., H obo- light, "bed-time reading;" it was not de- liography of fifty-six pages and 14 1 pages ken, N J, 2008, 52 1pp, illus, gloss, biblio, signed or intended to be such, I am sure. As of notes are val uable to anyone interested notes, appen, index, ISBN 978-0-470- a reference book, however, and, as a place in further research. W ith all these points in 13600-3; $35hc) to start if o ne is seeking information re- mind, Latimer's book stands as an excellent When most people think of "mari time garding a specifi c segm ent of the shipping resource about an important misunderhistory," they think of the whole spectrum ind ustry's history, this nicely produced vol- stood war, a worthwhile addition to your of human interaction with the sea, ships, ume is the one to use. mari tim e library. and events. For m any of us, this means the WILLIAM H . WHITE LOUIS ARTHUR N ORTON study of naval engagem ents, fleet actions, Bellevue, N ew Jersey West Simsbury, Connecticut ~ EA 11STORY 122, SPRIN G 2008

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Sea History 122 - Spring 2008  

16 Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, by Philip J. Webster • 20 Wireless Goes to Sea: Guglielmo Marconi's Radio and SS Ponce, by Captain Henry...

Sea History 122 - Spring 2008  

16 Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, by Philip J. Webster • 20 Wireless Goes to Sea: Guglielmo Marconi's Radio and SS Ponce, by Captain Henry...

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