- Series: Oxford Quick Reference
- Hardcover: 688 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (December 8, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198606168
- ISBN-13: 978-0198606161
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.7 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea (Oxford Quick Reference) 2nd Edition
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Oxford has made a great reference work even better. An essential for questions about the oceans and seagoing vessels, this A-Z encyclopedia compiles 2,600 scholarly entries that reflect sailing history from 3000 B.C. to the present. In addition to diagrams of -clipper-ship rigging, data on the battle against scurvy, sketches of sailor's knots, a drawing of a hornpipe dance, and names of sea battles and their participants, the updated companion offers information on environmental issues, a chart of the Beaufort scale, the global thermohaline conveyor, a map of Magellan's voyage across the Pacific, and methods of preserving archaeological finds. A 25-page cross-referencing index ties the obscure to the commonplace; for example, the reader looking up 'cutter cranks' is referred to the entry achting, and saxitoxin is cross-referenced to hale.
The writing style suits the researcher as well as the sampler who likes browsing among fascinating sea lore, details, and courageous deeds. There are entries covering sea songs, the evolution of sails, and the 1836 rescue of a ship's crew by Grace Darling, a lighthouse-keeper's daughter. For readers of Moby Dick, A Night to Remember, The Sea Wolf, or the novels of Patrick O'Brian (who has an entry), the text answers questions about shrouds and bells, mooring and lading, and more.
A meticulous reference classic, this volume belongs in most public and academic libraries and on home reference shelves. It would also delight old salts and shore dwellers as a gift. Since the first edition is more than 30 years old, the update is welcome. Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Oxford has made a great reference work even better. An essential for questions about oceans and sea-going vessels.... A meticulous reference classic."--Booklist
"Complete with more than 2,600 articles covering a span of more than 5,000 years, this is one of the most comprehensive and authoritative reference books of its kind, including concise explanations of every nautical term from shipbuilding, yachting, diving and marine mammals to piracy and the literature of the sea."--Sunday Charleston Post & Courier
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Top Customer Reviews
The first edition claims it has 3700 entries, while the second claims only "more than 2600." The first has 964 pages of text (plus some nice color appendices on signal flags and buoys) while the second edition has only 652 pages (plus an index, of limited value since the entries in the book are alphabetized, and also cross-referenced with asterisks indicating related topics). The typeface is smaller (but still very easily readable) in the first edition, so the difference in the number of words is even more extreme than the preceding comparisons suggest. By counting the approximate number of lines per 100 words in the first and second editions (13 and 15, respectively), and the number of lines per full page (122 and 104), and then multiplying by the numbers of pages mentioned before, I roughly estimate the ratio of words as two to one: there are twice as many words in the first edition (about 904,677 vs. 452,053)!
So what do you get in the half-size second edition? You get a lot of material from the period since 1976, as explained in the publisher's blurb reproduced in the Amazon listing. Oceanography and so on. What is missing is the great bulk of what makes the first edition so good: amazing historical material on the age of sail and also on ships in the first three quarters of the 20th century. Essays are cut in half (e.g., Lord Nelson gets two pages instead of four), or entries are just dropped (e.g., the entry on James Fenimore Cooper which just led me to enjoy his sea novel, The Two Captains, is absent). Sometimes entries actually get less accurate, even though they are often largely cribbed from the first edition: for example the first at least says that "posh" is "supposedly derived" from the well-known "port-outward starboard-home," while the second immediately defines posh as just this acronym! (Check the Oxford Dictionary of American English, e.g., for the accepted truth.) The second edition, in short, is twice as bad as well as half the size of the first!
Amazon puts the reviews of both editions together without any indication of which refer to the second edition. Obviously the ones prior to 2005 must refer to the first. So keep that in mind as you read.
My wife mistakenly bought the (much more expensive) second edition for me at Christmas. I had been enjoying the first edition from the public library and was immediately dismayed on opening the new one. The sparse text and large type gave it away before I read a word. Now I've ordered a copy of the first. You can do the same, starting at a price of a hundredth of a dollar, as I write this. Don't be a sucker.
By the way, the second edition is an example of an arrangement that almost always spells disaster: the posthumous "coauthor," or this case, "co-editor." The original editor, Peter Kemp, died in 1992, long before the 2005 second edition with his name on it was produced. That Kemp could not see it is the only good thing I have to say about the second edition.
Laid out in true encyclopaedic form, this book contains almost one thousand pages of facts - many of which are supported by black and white graphics or photographs. The only exception is the colour used right at the end to show; Ships flags, ships lights, Buoys and Buoyage - all of which are, of course, wholly dependant on colour in order to be fully explained.
The bookshelf of anyone engaged in the research of ships and shipwrecks would be empty without a copy of this excellent and most useful publication.
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