Fan of Full Fathom Five? Be sure to check it out at its new home!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exhibition: Model show in Denver

The Rocky Mountain Shipwrights send along an annoucement of their Model Show and Exhibition, Oct. 18 through Nov. 1, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. There will be models of sailing ships, steamships, warships--from beginners to masters, from kits and from scratch.

If you can't make it to Denver, do check out the photo gallery on their website.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Three books: true tales of piracy

A new addition to NPR's Three Books series are three books concerning true tales of piracy and plunder. This list was compiled by author Brooks Brown, who, according to the photo caption, "has spent many years trying to prove that pirates are way cooler than ninjas."

Hmmm. The ninjas that appear in The Tick are pretty cool.

Do head over and check out the list--NPR's book coverage is wonderful, whether you read the webpage or follow the link to the audio. And if you want to support public broadcasting, follow the links in the little blue-gray box to buy the books.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Still Searching for the Franklin Expedition

It's true; according to Randy Boswell's article, Parks Canada to lead new search for Franklin's ships:

The Canadian government confirmed Friday it will embark on the most extensive search ever for the fabled British shipwrecks Erebus and Terror...

Why send out the icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier? Why look for Franklin's ships after all this time? Not just for global maritime history, but for the reasons that have lain behind maritime exploration for centuries: to boost a claim for sovereignty.

If you're unfamiliar with the Franklin Expedition, or the contemporary issues surrounding nations' claims to seabed rights in the Arctic, read Boswell's article--he summarizes the history and why it's important to the polar nations of today. He even includes a fascinating tidbit: Britain gave the ships to Canada, should they ever be found.

The resources concerning Franklin and the northwest passage are vast; some of the best include:

And a there's even a wonderful novel, Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal.

Want to explore virtually? Then follow the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier icebreaker via the website. Imagine what it would have been like for Lady Franklin to have had that option.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Albania, over and under the water

I just discovered Nicolle Hirschfeld's wonderful Underwater Albania. Beautifully written, start with the first post, "Albania??" published on August 5, where she speaks of the associations that she has with Albania and its history. Her story continues as one of the best travelogues I've ever read, bringing Albania to life with vivid detail and humor.

But this is not just entertainment; Nicolle is an assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The turns of phrase, though, give the impression that this instructor is a wordsmith. To her, the Illyrian pirates were "the stuff of Roman nightmares," and she weaves into a late night post the story of an ancient Egyptian search for cedar. In the midst, she clearly and engagingly explains the role of every step in the expedition. For those of us not fortunate enough to ever be involved in such a venture, this blog should be required reading--she involves the reader in every step from the high-tech surveys to squashing into a wetsuit.

The post that made me a devoted reader, though, was published on Aug. 18, and began:

I am where I love to be. Behind me, the island of Corfu; before me, the coast of Albania.

How rare to be where you love to be, and to take the time to share it with the world?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Positions & the Caird Library blog

I've tweaked our layout a bit to create a handy list of job resources, from individual maritime museums that post their open positions, to general job listings where maritime jobs tend to show up. Also, I've added some links that include marine education positions in academic and marine industry settings.

Some of them have rss feeds, some sites have email distribution, and some sites have neither--just click through to check them out.

And I've added a blog to our list that I absolutely love reading: the blog from the Caird Library at the NMM in Greenwich. It has everything that I think an institutional blog should: news regarding services, resource highlights, and quick blurbs about resources of interest. They provide an rss feed and email distribution, so sign up--but don't neglect visiting the site. They include handy links to the catalog and a wonderful selection of news headlines.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What will we find and why?

Luke Slattery's article In search of Western Civilization's lost classics in the Aug. 6, 2008 edition of The Australian isn't just interesting for its discussion of the latest techniques that allow us to read charred papyri, but for addressing the question of why we go to all this trouble. Why archeology? Why conservation? Why study? Why write history?

And what does this have to do with maritime history?

Consider that these texts may hold a copy of the Kypria, which is believed to be Homer's source material, as well as many other highly influential lost texts, which have shaped our ideas of not only who we were, but who we are.

Our sense of our history influences our concepts of ourselves, but we often forget that history is not fixed--it is written based on what is available. And occasionally we are lucky enough to recover objects from our past that allow us to rewrite our history and change our concepts of ourselves.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In conclusion

In this last look at the maritime books in The Guardian's top ten series, I have quite a few lists for you, and have barely scratched the surface. How many lists are there at The Guardian's top ten series site? As of this writing, 270. That's a lot of reading. The lists below, published from 2003 back to the beginning of the series, contain a lot of the usual suspects, but also some surprises:

  • Jude Fisher's top ten tales of adventure has a lot of maritime books, including one in a genre not often represented in the maritime world, fantasy. Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb is a fun read, and unusual for setting merchant shipping in a magical world. Ever think your ship is actually intelligent? Then you need to read this book and check out the rest of Fisher's recommendations.
  • Peter F. Steven's top ten nautical books contains titles that will probably be familiar to most MaritimeCompass readers, but the book at the no.1 spot is worth mentioning: Armada by Garrett Mattingly is a must-read for anyone interesting in the history of ships, shipping, or naval developments. Wonder why merchant ships of the 19th century look as they do? This book actually explains it. The period of the Armada was pivotal for shipbuilding, and if you think naval architecture is a dry subject, then this is the book that will make it come alive.
  • Martin Gorst's top ten books on science contains many titles of interest to maritime readers, covering math, Darwin, and astronomy.

And their lists will keep coming--if this has whetted your appetite, go to the Guardian's main top tens site and add it to your rss reader. And explore the rest of the site--they have great content, for free, including Ten top sea kayaking destinations, if you need to fit in a trip before the summer's over!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And we're off

Have you brushed up on the history of science? Sharpened your navigation skills? Then check out Max jones' top ten books about exploration. The author of The Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice, his list is rich in titles about Scott, but broadens to include explorers from the 14th century through man's journeying into space.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The history of science

You may be surprised at the choice of the next list: Simon Singh's favourite books on the history of science. Singh is the author of Fermat's Last Theorem, a book which I enjoyed immensely, but, to be fair, I can't relate to maritime history. To bring this on topic, Longitude by Dava Sobel makes his list at no. 6--if you haven't read it, it's very entertaining, and I highly recommend getting the illustrated edition if you're not intimately familiar with the chronometers.

Maybe I can relate this to maritime history: knowledge of maritime history is richer when one investigates the history of science. Navigation? Mathematics. Steam engines? They put the "engine" in "engineering," which requires an understanding of physics. Without the great minds behind the history of science, would these vessels have floated upon the waves?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bathurst's top ten

Another interesting top ten list on the Guardian site is that of the author of The Lighthouse Stevensons and The Wreckers, Bella Bathurst's top ten books on the sea. Moby Dick appears on this list as well, but her choice at the no. 1 spot? The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The rest of the list is more surprising, containing books not often mentioned on other reading lists, including a book of photographs.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Island reading

Are you thinking of sandy beaches? Of ripe, tropical fruits under shady palms? Even the drama of shipwreck from the safety of your own hearth? Let's begin a look at the maritime aspects of The Guardian's many top ten reading lists, beginning with a little armchair travel to island paradises.

Romesh Gunesekera takes you island hopping with a list of his top ten island books. This list is far ranging, with capsule reviews and descriptions. Not surprising, it includes Robinson Crusoe, but less obvious is the choice of Moby Dick--his paragraph justifying the inclusion of Moby Dick in a list of island reading is a thing of beauty.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Follow the Sun

A lovely web exhibit has been posted by the National Library of Australia, Follow the Sun : Australian Travel Posters, 1930s-1950s. What's maritime about it? Most of the images are images of the sea. East to navigate, and quick-loading, the online exhibit is delightful. When viewing the posters (via the "Destinations" link), look out for the appearance of a wee TV icon on the upper right indicating an available film. (Films are supplied by Screensound Australia.) The "Lithography" link is also fascinating, explaining with modern images the entire process.