Friday, September 06, 2019

Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany: A Lot of Information; Hours of Entertainment!

Book Review: Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany by Julian Stockwin
Version: Author paperback

Author Julian Stockwin posted past photos on Facebook of his research trips for his historical fiction novels, and I commented that he should write a book compiling some of his most interesting finds. He steered me to Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany, "A Ditty Bag of Wonders From the Golden Age of Sail". I was expecting a book of interesting bits and pieces of lore and wisdom of the sea, perhaps some notes on tying knots and types of sails and classes of wooden tackle blocks. But no, this wide collection of knowledge is much more than that.

Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany is a small "tome" of research of the age of sail. Of the people and the places and the battles from that amazing time when England was the master of the seas and none dared oppose her. Too, it digs deep into the words we speak that emerged from that time. And it tells of the daring and the discoveries that both heroes and the plainspoken achieved who might have lived lesser lives on land. Also, it delves into inventions that marked a time when men had to come up with their own solutions to challenges, so far away from civilization, and the beliefs and superstitions that followed them far out to sea. Such faraway and dangerous travel would also have its misfortunes, and Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany has a section on those, too.

Most often when I'm reading a Stockwin novel, I want to breeze through it, because it's a compelling story I must finish to the end. But Stockin's Maritime Miscellany isn't that kind of work. You want to study it and savor it for its detail. And there's plenty of detail! One hundred and eighty-seven pages of regular content, plus eighteen pages of museums, important historical dates, ship sizes, and a detailed glossary. And the book is full of historical black and white photographs, with a photo index in the back.

So to say I was pleasantly surprised by the contents is an understatement. "Miscellany" is a good description! Reading this thorough book will provide you with not only a lot of information but also many hours of entertainment. It belongs on any shelf with books of stories of naval engagement, not to mention age of sail. And it gives you a deep understanding of the history of the times. If you haven't read Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany, add it to your to-read list now.

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