A handsome, if scattershot, nautical history from ancient Egyptian reed boats to today’s nearly half-mile-long container ships.
Surrounded by smaller new or period images of pirate flags, maps, posters, cargo, sailors’ knots, battles, interior views and other sidelights, the central paintings offer staid but sharply detailed portraits of one or more seagoing vessels. Many of these, capped by a table-covering, 42-inch view of the Titanic, are dramatically lengthened by double-layered slide-out side panels. Most of the ships are only seen from the waterline up, though an occasional small flap lifts to reveal generic glimpses of inside areas or structures. Lavery occasionally lets his nautical language slip (a trireme’s ram could puncture “the side of an enemy ship”), and the scattered captions and blocks of commentary supply little beyond random observations, plus assorted facts about significant ocean voyages and vessels.
Light on nautical lore and jargon, but like its companion, Legendary Journeys: Trains (2010), the art will fascinate casual browsers. (Pop-up nonfiction. 8-13)