Book Review – ‘Oceania Under Steam: Sea transport and the cultures of colonialism c. 1870–1914’ by Frances Steel
Frances Steel’s study of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand (USSCo.) at the height of the age of steam is a worthy addition to the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series. It represents an impressive and pioneering attempt to fill several gaps in our understanding of the British Pacific World between the late nineteenth century and the outbreak of the First World War. It can be positioned between the historiographies of the British Empire, the maritime world, and business history, and the book boldly attempts to draw connections between them. Although primarily a business history, it is not an economic history, nor does it focus on ‘celebrity’ ships, or indeed famous disasters. Instead, Steel extensively uses the archives of the Union Company as a vehicle to explore the complex cultural interactions of the Pacific world….