A History of Disasters at Sea
Shipwrecks are treasure troves of the past, revealing remarkable stories of heroism and tragedy. They have intrigued us for centuries, capturing the imagination of artists and writers, and illuminating the past for historians and archaeologists. Today, our exploration of shipwrecks uncovers the adventure, drama and perils of seafaring. In Shipwreck, maritime expert Sam Willis traces the astonishing tales of ships that have met with disastrous ends. Bringing the events of the time to life, he describes the acts of courage, moments of sacrifice and episodes of villainy that occurred in extreme conditions. Complemented by 100 colour paintings, photographs and maps, he also sheds light on the causes and consequences of the wreck and how, in many cases, the unearthing of the ship has added another layer to its story. Some of the featured ships were sunk for strategic reasons, such as the Skuldelev wrecks, whose 1957 discovery revealed the sophisticated seafaring culture of the Vikings.
But many were freak accidents, and their circumstances so extraordinary that they inspired literature – the ramming of the Essex by a sperm whale becoming immortalized in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. And there are those that symbolize colossal human tragedy: including the legendary Titanic whose maiden voyage went from pleasure cruise to epic catastrophe; and the World War Two USS Indianapolis which is remembered for the terrible plight of her crew who fell prey to sharks in the Pacific, an experience which still haunts the survivors today. Opening with the Kyrenia ship of 300 BC, and closing with the Kursk submarine tragedy of 2000, the compelling stories span wars and voyages of exploration, covering the Mary Rose, La Trinidad Valencera, the Endurance, the Lusitania, Scapa Flow, USS Arizona and the Wilhelm Gustloff, as well as many other famous ships that have never returned from sea.
Enlightening, evocative and gripping, Shipwreck is a beautifully illustrated record of more than 2000 years of maritime history. The Kyrenia Ship c.300 BC The Intan Ship c.920 The Skuldelev Ships c.1000 The Mary Rose 19 July 1545 The Trinidad Valencera 26 September 1588 The Vasa 10 August 1628 The Queen Anne’s Revenge May 1718 The Battle of Quiberon Bay 20 November 1759 La Méduse 17 July 1816 The Essex 20 November 1820 The H.L. Hunley 17 February1864 The Titanic 14 April 1912 The Endurance 21 November 1915 The Lusitania 7 November 1915 Scapa Flow 21 June 1919 USS Arizona 7 December 1919 The Wilhelm Gustloff 30 January 1945 USS Indianapolis 30 July 1945 The Nagato 20 July 1946 The Torrey Canyon 18 March 1967 The Kursk 12 August 2000.
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