"Masters Under God" presents the third of five books in Richard Woodman's groundbreaking history of the British Merchant Navy, covering the period from 1817 to 1884, from the end of the Napoleonic War to the first steam-ships bound for Australia, then in the throes of a great immigration boom. It encompasses gold rush-fuelled emigration as well as the Opium Wars and the breaking down of trade barriers with Imperial China, including the opening of the Suez Canal, the laying of submarine telegraph cables and the birth of cruise companies like Cunard and P&O. The 1860s was the era of the beautiful tea clippers, but it was also a period which began with the social status of the merchant marine at low ebb, blighted by inebriation and ineptitude, prior to Samuel Plimsoll's safety reforms. Alongside the continuing development of the sailing ship and the downfall of the East India Company's monopoly on eastern trade, the first steamers started plying along the coasts of Europe and America before venturing across the Atlantic, and eventually, the world.
This dazzling book continues the story of the mercantile marine where the previous volume finished, and will leave you anticipating the next with baited breath. '...a terrific book, tackling a vast subject with a perceptive eye...Lots of surprising facts and a salutary reminder that the Merchant Navy often played a far more critical role in Britain's history than the Royal Navy' - Dr.David Cordingly.