This is really a maritime compendium. If you wanted a single book to give to someone who knew little of the sea, this is it. It is a large format book with extensive illustration and crisp text on heavy paper. It is tempting to describe it as a ‘coffee table’ book, which is a role it could fulfill, but that would not do it justice. It covers virtually every aspect of maritime heritage and practice in a single volume. To pack that scope inside a single cover is an achievement, but to do it well is amazing. There are stunning full colour photographs. There are atmospheric black and white photographs, there are reproductions of charts and paintings, there are excellent drawings, and there is crisp text, all for less than £30 – a lesson to other publishers that a quality printing, perfect binding and extensive illustration should not require the reader to seek a second mortgage. This is a book that should grace all libraries, but if you do want a coffee table book, make sure it’s a sturdy coffee table.