Book Review-‘‘Nemesis’: The first iron warship and her world’ byA. G. Marshall

By W. Mark Hamilton, published December 2020


Adrian Marshall’s ‘Nemesis’ makes a significant contribution not only to a history of this unique ship, but to the history of the nineteenth-century Asian world in which she sailed. Nemesis was the first of a generation of steam-powered ironclad vessels with watertight compartments. It was also the first iron vessel to round the Cape of Good Hope.

The book traces the history of Nemesis from her 1840 birth at Liverpool in the service of the East India Company to her peaceful demise 15 years later as a hulk in West Bengal. The author explains in considerable detail her cutting-edge technology and strategic role in expanding British influence and dominion in the Far East. Nemesis ‘represented a staggering naval superiority over oar- and sail-powered Asian rivals’, Marshall notes. For example, she could sail in most weather conditions, manoeuvre in narrow inlets, and fire her guns on Chinese forts. She also had the ability to tow behind her stern boats filled with well-equipped soldiers…

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Filed under: Opium Wars | East India Company
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design | Weapons

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