Book Review: ‘British Shipping in the Mediterranean During the Napoleonic Wars: The untold story of a successful adaptation’ by Thomas Malcomson

By Thomas Malcomson, published January 2021


The fourth volume in Brill’s Studies in Maritime History is provided by Katerina Galani. Her study of British merchant shipping in the Mediterranean, between 1770 and 1815, pushes aside elements of our earlier understanding of the growth, organizational development, and the influence of war in this landlocked sea. Though focusing on British merchant trade, the book does examine the interplay between British and local merchant shipping during the period. The findings are driven by a strong statistical analysis using information primarily from Lloyd’s List and the quarantine stations at Livorno (Leghorn), in addition to other sources touching on various ports around the sea.

The sources for this book, and how they are employed, are a major strength, which alone renders the volume an essential addition to the study of merchant shipping within the Mediterranean Sea. Galani uses primary evidence from a variety of British, Greek and Italian archives, supplemented by and integrated with the relevant secondary literature. This is an important step forward in a revision of our understanding of British trade and the development of regional merchant shipping in the Mediterranean, in the era of transition to modern shipping business through the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is written for an academic audience and will be of interest not only to maritime historians but also to those studying economic, transportation, and social history.

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Filed under: Napoleonic War | Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Navies

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