Book Review-‘Breaking Seas, Broken Ships: People, shipwrecks and Britain 1854–2007’ by I. Friel,

By Innes McCartney, published November 2021


This new book by Ian Friel is a follow-on from his earlier Britain and the Ocean Road, which through eight chapters loosely based around shipwrecks explored Britain’s maritime history up to 1825. This new volume continues the same thread up to the modern day. Readers familiar with Britain and the Ocean Road will instantly recognize a similar format in this new book. It is a slim volume which can be comfortably read in an afternoon, but as with its predecessor, it is time well spent. The book is illustrated with maps, diagrams and photographs.

It contains seven main chapters which build a timeline following the development of British maritime history through the industrial age. Chapter 1 tells the tale of the disappearance of the liner SS City of Glasgow in 1854. The author weaves the development of steamships into the history of transatlantic migration and the familial consequences of shipping disasters. The undocumented disappearance of ships at sea with all hands was an all-too-common feature of shipping losses and this case is an excellent and tragic example.

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Filed under: Shipwrecks
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea

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