The Sea in World History
Exploration, Travel, and Trade
In all eras, water transport has served as the cheapest and most efficient means of moving cargo and people over any significant distance. Only relatively recently have railroads and aircraft provided an alternative. Most of the world’s bulk goods continue to travel primarily by ship over water. Even today, 95 percent of the cargo that enters and leaves the United States does so by ship. Similarly, people around the world rely on the sea for food, and in recent years, the sea has become an important source of oil and other resources, with the long-term effects of our continuing efforts to extract resources from the sea further highlighting environmental concerns that range from pollution to the exhaustion of fish stocks.
This chronologically organized two volume reference addresses the history of the sea, beginning with ancient civilizations (4000 to 1000 BCE) and ending with the modern era (1945 to the present day). Each of the eight chapters is further broken down into sections that focus on specific nations or regions, offering detailed descriptions of that area of the world and shorter entries on specific topics, individuals, and events.The book spans maritime history, covering major seafaring peoples and nations; famous explorers, travelers, and commanders; events, battles, and wars; key technologies, including famous ships; important processes and ongoing events, such as piracy and the slave trade; and more.
Readers will benefit from dozens of primary source documents—ranging from ancient Egyptian tales of seafaring to texts by renowned travelers like Marco Polo, Zheng He, and Ibn Battuta—that provide firsthand accounts from the age of discovery as well as accounts of battle from World War I and II and more modern accounts of the sea.
- Provides a broad survey of the importance of the oceans for all of human culture and civilization, including coverage of diverse cultures such as the Polynesians, Vikings, Minoans, and many others.
- Describes the voyages of the great explorers and places them in a broad multinational and multicultural perspective
- Traces the human use of the sea over time, noting activities and historic events such as piracy, the slave trade, fishing, and whaling, as well as describing commerce in ancient and modern contexts.
From Torpedoes to Aviation:
Washington Irving Chambers & Technological Innovation in the New Navy 1876 to 1913
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The career of Washington Irving Chambers spans a formative period in the development of the United States Navy: He entered the Naval Academy in the doldrum years of obsolete, often rotting ships, and left after he had helped like-minded officers convince Congress and the public of the need to adopt a new naval strategy built around a fleet of technologically advanced battleships. He also laid the groundwork for naval aviation and the important role it would play in the modern navy.
This work covers Chambers’s early naval career, his work at the new Office of Naval Intelligence, his participation in the Greeley Relief Expedition, and a survey for the projected isthmian canal through Nicaragua, before becoming the key advocate for naval modernization. As such, Chambers worked as a pioneering torpedo designer, supervised construction of the Maine, modernized the New York Navy Yard, and became a member of the first permanent faculty at the Naval War College.
During his long career, Chambers not only designed torpedoes, but also several warships, including a prototype Dreadnought-style battleship and a host of small devices that ranged from torpedo guidance systems to the first catapult for launching airplanes from ships. At the close of his career, Chambers purchased the navy’s first aircraft and founded its air arm. Working with Glenn Curtiss, Chambers guided a coalition of aviation enthusiasts and pioneers who popularized naval aviation and demonstrated its capabilities. Chambers arranged the first take-off and landing of an airplane from a ship and other demonstrations of naval aviation. Combined with his tireless advocacy for modernization, these contributions secured a place in naval and aviation history for the innovator.