Historic Sail: The Glory of the Sailing Ship from the 13th to the 19th Century

Joseph Wheatley, Illustrator, Stephen Howarth, Author, Stephen Howarth, Text by (Art/Photo Books)
Joseph Wheatley, Illustrator, Stephen Howarth, Author, Stephen Howarth, Text by (Art/Photo Books) Greenhill Books $85 (208p) ISBN 978-1-85367-399-3
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Howarth and Wheatley's spectacular collaboration isn't exactly a history of sailing ships. It's a beautiful and informative picture book aimed at nautically minded grownups--a set of splendid, full-page, high-contrast illustrations depicting 91 ships, from the medieval Danish vessel called a ""cog"" to a Scottish tea-carrying ship of 1869. Obscure striped flags dangle from looming diagonal spars, and intricate webs of rigging give space and position to sails actual and potential, as each of Wheatley's meticulously drawn crafts catches the wind from off the page. British naval historian Howarth (Nelson) provides a fact-filled paragraph to accompany each plate, and also supplies a long glossary at the end, defining such terms as ""galleass"" (""hybrid between an oar-powered galley and a sailing ship"") and ""jib-boom"" (""extension to the bowsprit for mounting a flying jib""). Howarth and Wheatley's volume is the first book of reconstructed sailing-ship illustrations since the '60s, and incorporates new research on how medieval and Renaissance ships, in particular, must have looked and functioned. Maritime duffers will admire the drawings' elegance, while nautical experts will thrill to Howarth and Wheatley's grasp of technical detail. German cogs, Howarth writes, ""were characterized by an angular straight stem-post,"" while English and Danish cogs kept their stem-posts curved--those stem posts ""prevented the use of a tiller; instead the rudder was fitted with a crossbar equipped with rope tackles to work it."" BOMC alternate. (May)
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