honor of Operation Sail, 1964, whereby ships surviving from the great days of sail will be gathered first in Bermuda, then in New York harbor for the New York World's Fair, Warren Armstrong has written of the ships of yesteryear. He tells the stories of Yankee packets that carried immigrants in the steerage across the Atlantic; the ships that bore eager prospectors westward in the Cold Rush; the magnificent clipper ships that made the Canton-New York-Liverpool-London-Melbourne-Canton run in the tea trade years. Here are Donald McKay's vessels, among them his favorite masterpiece lightning with its record speed; Isaac Webb's Natchez, flat floored like a Mississippi cotton droughter, skippered by renowned Bob Waterman; the Alabama, which under Raphael Semmes' hand, devastated Northern shippers during the Civil War. The advent of steam, de Lesseps' canal, not for the weatherwise sailing ship, following the inroads of the Alabama, saw American sailing tonnage reduced to one-third its strength by 1900. Other figures and ships emerge: Tommy Lipton (Sir Thomas), the ""World's Best Loser"" of the America Gup; George Steers' America, the Cutty Sark, the historical Constitution, to make its appearance for the 1964 event. While the lore is plentiful here, it is served up potluck fashion, with little concern for chronological clarity or particularizing detail.