The Ship Asunder
A Sunday Times Book of the Year
‘Three and a half millennia of British Maritime history, from the Middle Bronze Age to the early 20th century … This book is written with passion and sympathy. It will live with me for a very long time’ Francis Pryor, author of The Fens
If Britain’s maritime history were embodied in a single ship, she would have a prehistoric prow, a mast plucked from a Victorian steamship, the hull of a modest fishing vessel, the propeller of an ocean liner and an anchor made of stone. We might call her Asunder, and, fantastical though she is, we could in fact find her today, scattered in fragments across the country’s creeks and coastlines.
In his moving and original new history, Tom Nancollas goes in search of eleven relics that together tell the story of Britain at sea. From the swallowtail prow of a Bronze Age vessel to a stone ship moored at a Baroque quayside, each one illuminates a distinct phase of our adventures upon the waves; each brings us close to the people, places and vessels that made a maritime nation. Weaving together stories of great naval architects and unsung shipwrights, fishermen and merchants, shipwrecks and superstition, pilgrimage, trade and war, The Ship Asunder celebrates the richness of Britain’s seafaring tradition in all its glory and tragedy, triumph and disaster, and asks how we might best memorialize it as it vanishes from our shores.
Elegantly combining a tour of Britain's ports, coasts and islands with a tour of an imaginary ship that contains fragments acquired across the centuries, Tom Nancollas has written an enchanting and thoughtful account of Britain's rich maritime heritage. -- David Abulafia, author of The Great Sea and The Boundless Sea Tom Nancollas takes us aboard eleven historic vessels, covering three and a half millennia of British Maritime history, from the Middle Bronze Age to the early 20th century. Each ship has its own story to tell, which Tom brings to life with astonishing clarity. This book is written with passion and sympathy. It will live with me for a very long time. -- Francis Pryor, author of The Fens A fascinating voyage of discovery * Spectator * Vivid... Poignant... Nancollas tells fine tales, rich with that sherrycask fragrance of a world so immediate, yet so very long ago * Tablet * The Ship Asunder is a first-class book. It is superbly readable and entirely serious, questioning not just how Britain thinks of its maritime past, and indeed itself, but how history is written, understood and enacted. It is a work of experiential historiography, if you like - and a delight * Times Literary Supplement * Fizzing with enthusiasm, Nancollas travels the country, exploring the stories of prows, masts, figureheads and propellers and visiting the sites of dockyards and ropehouses ... Sailors and landlubbers alike should love it * The Sunday Times Books of the Year *
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