Book Review: ‘Estudos de História da Náutica e das, Navegações de Alto-Mar vol. 4’ by J. M. Malhão Pereira

By Wolfgang Köberer, published November 2022


This is the fourth book in a series of compilations of contributions by the author, a former navy captain and one of the most prolific writers on the history of navigation in Portugal since the 1990s. Unfortunately, his work is not known in northern Europe as well as it deserves since there are not many intersections between the circles of historians of navigation in Britain, the Netherlands and France, and Portugal and Spain. Malhão Pereira himself has always tried to bridge this gap, though, participating in conferences in Greenwich, Bremerhaven, Aixen-Provence and Riga, and also the gap between the Occident and the Orient having contributed to conferences in India and China. And it was not due to a language gap, as a sizable amount of his articles and conference contributions are in English – one even in French.

It may be a surprise that a retired navy captain who once was commander of the Portuguese sail training ship Sagres is researching the history of navigation, but that is quite common in Portugal where, apart from such eminent academicians as Joaquim Bensaude, Luciano Pereira da Silva and Luis de Albuquerque, lately Francisco Contente Domingues and Henrique Leitao, naval officers have dealt with questions of the history of navigation for a long time: Costa Canas, just to name a few. And that these retired naval officers are no simple dilettantes but qualified historians is shown by the fact that they hold a doctorate in history (hard to get at the University of Lisbon as I have seen from the experience of friends), as does Malhão Pereira who may be the only historian of navigation able to command a tall ship…

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