Saturday 22 June 2013

Review: The Conquest of the Ocean by Brian Lavery

The Conquest of the Ocean tells the 5,000 year history of the remarkable individuals who sailed seas, for trade, to conquer new lands, to explore the unknown. From the early Polynesians to the first circumnavigations by the Portuguese and the British, these are awe-inspiring tales of epic sea voyages involving great feats of seamanship, navigation, endurance, and ingenuity. Explore the lives and maritime adventures, many with first person narratives, of land seekers and globe charters such as Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook and Vitus Bering. (via

I don't read a lot of non-fiction but, when I do, I tend to look for books which will capture my attention in a variety of ways. This isn't to say that I've had much interest in seafaring previously sure, I've heard of the Titanic, and have wondered about explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Captain James Cook, but I've never sought out further information. However, that changed with The Conquest of the Ocean.

This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful books on my shelf. It's presented in standard hardback size, so nothing too bulky, and is wrapped in a striking dust jacket. Honestly, this dust jacket is attractive all on its own, with raised lettering and a combination of glossy and matte textures.

Inside, you'll find ivory coloured pages and a plethora of full-colour illustrations. These illustrations work to support the written content, which covers a vast amount of maritime history (5,000 years in under 400 pages!). Indeed, there's a lot of information in The Conquest of the Ocean and that makes the book perhaps most suited for those who, like me, don't know much about seafaring and want to learn more.

The way the book is organised also gives readers the option to choose how they'd prefer to use it. For example, you could read it cover-to-cover such as I did, or you could go straight to something specific. This is all made possible by a detailed contents page and index. There's also a glossary which explains some of the more technical terms used in the book.

Overall, The Conquest of the Ocean is a wonderfully presented, well-written, and easy-to-follow work of non-fiction. If you're interested in learning more about the history of seafaring and love aesthetically pleasing books, I would definitely recommend this.

Rating: 4 / 5

To learn more about The Conquest of the Ocean, and to download a sample chapter of the book, visit DK's website.