Book Review – ‘The Sea in History: The modern world’ by Steven Gray

By Steven Gray, published December 2020


This tome forms a substantial finale to the four volume Sea in History series, a result of the huge Oceanides project. It is an 848-page behemoth, with a contributor list that reads like a who’s who of modern naval history, and indeed beyond the field. It is therefore appropriate that the volume is edited by a scholar as distinguished as N. A. M. Rodger. In keeping with the rest of the series, the book contains essays in both English and French, although 58 of the 64 chapters are in English.

As with the other volumes in this series, it aims to cover a huge subject area, especially with its almost global focus. It also deals with a period of huge change in the maritime sphere, from the British naval and maritime dominance of the nineteenth century, through naval races, world wars, the Cold War, the turn of the twenty-first century and even into the future. Yet it does not aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the period, nor new research. Instead, as Rodger sets out in his introductions, the project’s aim was to gather distinguished experts together, and to ask them to contemplate two questions for their own research areas: ‘was it the sea which made the difference’ and ‘what difference did the sea make?’

Perhaps its most important contribution will be to non-maritime scholars and students of the subjects in question, in that it emphasizes the key place of the sea in (at least some of) the modern world, both in a local and global scope …

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Filed under: Atlantic | Baltic | English Channel | North Sea | Irish Sea | Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century | Indian Ocean | Caribbean | Pacific
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Manpower & Life at Sea | Merchant Marines | Miscellaneous | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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