Histories of shipbuilders, especially those in the age of steam, are not common. Some firms have disappeared leaving little behind but archival bits and pieces. This volume is a welcome exception to the rule--it is a well-written and beautifully illustrated record of the famous John Brown Shipyard that--among many others--built the first two Cunard Line "Queens."
Based on detailed company records and a wonderful collection of well-reproduced photos, this story of the Clydebank shipbuilder can be seen as a window into the glory days of British naval and merchant ship building. But it is also a picture of why Britain's once central role in this industry faded in the late 20th century, leaving behind mere rusted remnants of what once was. In that sense, this is a sad tale, for we know how it ends. But for several decades, no firm built ships better or bigger than the workers of John Brown.
The book is well organized and tightly written, melding details on individual ships (many well remembered and lamented) with how the ship yard worked, often difficult labor issues, and the growing role of government orders or subsidies to keep the yard open and available. It is thus a tale of both the ships themselves and how they came to be, within a larger context of a major ship builder's operations.
This is a handsome book with large pages offering top notch photo reproduction and some wonderful comparative profiles of Clydebank ships. I bought it sight unseen and am glad I did.