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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Out of the Depths

A History of Shipwrecks

A highly illustrated voyage through shipwrecks ancient and contemporary.
Out of the Depths explores all aspects of shipwrecks across four thousand years, examining their historical context and significance, showing how shipwrecks can be time capsules, and shedding new light on long-departed societies and civilizations. Alan G. Jamieson not only informs readers of the technological developments over the last sixty years that have made the true appreciation of shipwrecks possible, but he also covers shipwrecks in culture and maritime archaeology, their appeal to treasure hunters, and their environmental impacts. Although shipwrecks have become less common in recent decades, their implications have become more wide-ranging: since the 1960s, foundering supertankers have caused massive environmental disasters, and in 2021, the blocking of the Suez Canal by the giant container ship Ever Given had a serious effect on global trade.

320 pages | 29 color plates, 46 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: Discoveries and Exploration, General History

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"Out of the Depths is not a simple chronology of shipwrecks. Jamieson writes about the circumstances and context of each loss. One important thread of his historical narrative is how shipwrecks over time have been used by mankind. Since the beginning, salvage has been the most important activity as sovereigns and ship owners tried to recover cargos such as precious metals, jewels, ordinary trade goods, and even cannons. The need to access wrecks in increasing depths also helped force development of diving operations and equipment, which remains true even today. . . . I have been involved in a wide variety of ocean-related activities for more than half a century, yet I found Out of the Depths both educational and a good read. It is in my library and should be in yours if you are interested in maritime history."

Proceedings of the US Naval Institute

“Jamieson offers concise, accessible coverage of many important shipwrecks through time, whether or not they have been located. This book is more than encyclopedic, because for some wrecks he presents many more details about the people involved, to remind the reader that there are tragic personal stories behind each of the hundreds of thousands of shipwrecks throughout history.”

Warren Riess, University of Maine

“Sharing the incredible saga of lost ships on the ocean floor and how they reflect humanity’s past is a daunting task. Jamieson’s sweeping narrative offers a detailed and fascinating view of this vast undersea museum, and the stories that the wrecks in those often-inaccessible depths offer to modern generations.”

James P. Delgado, Ph.D., archaeologist, explorer, and author of "War at Sea: A Shipwrecked History"

“In Out of the Depths: A History of Shipwrecks, Jamieson provides more than a comprehensive guided tour of shipwrecks across time to the present. His history is not simply a compendium of shipwrecks; Jamieson points to those shipwrecks which had an impact upon society and affect our study of the past. He starts by showing how shipwrecks influence our literature and arts and ends with their influence on our laws and values. . . . If you are interested in the study of shipwrecks, this book serves as an excellent starting point and comprehensive overview."

Vic Mastone, former Director and Chief Archaeologist for the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources

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