Julian Stockwin,
Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany
(Ebury, 2009)

I was enjoying Julian Stockwin's excellent Kydd series of naval adventures when the author wrote and offered me a copy of Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany for consideration. How could I refuse?

I'm glad I didn't. The Miscellany, subtitled "A Ditty Bag of Wonders from the Golden Age of Sail," is a treat for a nautical enthusiast like myself.

This book, packed though it is with odd naval anecdotes, esoteric definitions and fascinating trivia, isn't really useful as an encyclopedic resource. Stockwin didn't organize his entries for people trying to look up a specific item. Rather, it's a mishmash, a loose collection of entries that flow more by whim than design.

That doesn't make this book any less fun to read, however. I've kept it handy for those moments when I have a few minutes to kill, and I've also picked it up when I had more time for some serious reading. Either way, I've come away entertained and a little more knowledgeable about naval life.

Stockwin has a pleasant, casual approach to his topic that is both informative and enjoyable. I wish this book was twice its size, or at least the first in a series, so that this reading experience didn't come to an end so soon. No worries, I'll keep this one in a prominent spot in my collection, and I'm sure I'll read it through again.

By the way, a ditty bag is a small bag in which sailors kept tools and personal items. Bet ya didn't know that!

[ visit Julian Stockwin's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

29 May 2010

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