Book Review-‘Merchant Seamen’s Health 1860−1960: Medicine, technology, shipowners and the state in Britain’ by T. Carter

By Kevin Brown, published November 2020


While many historians have focused on matters relating to health in the Royal Navy, less attention has been paid to the equally important subject of the history of medical care for merchant seamen. This reflects the comparative lack of interest in merchant seamen compared with the iconic status accorded to the Royal Navy since Trafalgar and the highpoint of the British Empire. It is also due to the wealth of primary sources available for studying the history of the health of the navy. Sources on the health and welfare of the merchant navy are less rich and more widely dispersed, a weakness that has only allowed Tim Carter in Merchant Seamen’s Health to offer snapshots of his subject at certain periods in time rather than to offer a sustained narrative of development, change and lack of change. Nevertheless his well-researched, meticulously referenced and carefully written book is detailed and offers a welcome overview of a century of improvement in the health of the British merchant navy, which helps to fill a gap in the historiography…

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Health at Sea
Subjects include: Merchant Marines

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