Book Review-‘Clipper Ships and the Golden Age of Sail: Races and rivalries on the nineteenth century high seas’ by S. Jefferson

By Michael Leek, published November 2020


There is nothing wrong with so-called ‘popular history’. Indeed there is a number of historians who have demonstrated that it is possible to write for a wider, non-specialized readership without compromising their academic credentials. A. J. P. Taylor and Robert K. Massie come readily to mind. Within maritime history, and the history of twentieth century sail in particular, there is Alan J. Villiers. The important point is that their works can, for the most part, be relied upon. However, this is not always the case, and unfortunately the book under review is questionable in terms of its overall credibility, regardless of the fact that the blurb on the dust jacket claims that for the author it is ‘perhaps understandable that he is now one of the world’s authorities on clipper ships in the world today’. Such a claim might well have been used by that recognized authority on merchant sail, David R. MacGregor, but he was far too modest to make such a claim for himself…

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Merchant Marines

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