An enthralling subject for a wide market, this story of ships through the history of man, from 5,000 B.C. to 1935 A.D. Essentially, says Van Loon, it must be a history of war for ""Man is a predatory animal. He lives by eating other animals and he enriches himself by stealing that which belongs to his neighbors. Hence the history of the world is the history of war."" And ships were an essential weapon, whether war was carried on for conquest, or for widening territory, or for expanding trade. To curiosity as an incentive he grants a grudging 5%. And he debunks long centuries of sailing the seven seas of the glamor and poetry that the life on the ocean wave has acquired. It is a pretty gruesome picture he paints, but it rings true, and it makes good reading. There are a few controversial positions taken, which adds to the fun of the book. And -- just as in his tremondously popular Geography, he succeeds in cramming an enormous amount of information into fluent, dramatic story form, so that one absorbs, painlessly, an encyclopaedia of information. A book for all ages -- and no apologies needed. Liberally illustrated with Van Loon's characteristic -- and definitely informative --drawings.