gCaptain’s Best Nautical Books Of 2017

John Konrad
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December 7, 2017

gCaptain Book-Award 2017

gCaptain is proud to announce the winners of our second annual award for gCaptain’s Best Nautical Books Of The Year. The year’s notable nautical fiction and nonfiction books of late 2016 and 2017, as selected by gCaptain’s editors. This list represents books we have read or reviewed in the past year (or so) and we believe are well worth your time. 

P.S. If you think we’ve missed an excellent book published this year, then email us [email protected] or leave a comment via Facebook

The Dawn Watch

This engrossing biography of ship captain and literary giant, Joseph Conrad, melds history and literary analysis wins our top spot this year because, unlike most books of its ilk,  it was not written from a comfortable chair in a plush Ivy League college, it was written from the deck of ships and the rivers of Africa. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World is an absorbing blend of history, biography, and travelogue, Maya Jasanoff follows Conrad’s routes and the stories of his four greatest works and gives us a perspective of Captain Conrad from sea level. (Amazon Link)

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THE GULF – The Making of an American Sea

In light of the 2010 devastation of the BP oil spill, environmental historian Davis (History and Sustainability Studies/Univ. of Florida) has written an engaging, truly relevant new study of the Gulf as a powerful agent in the American story, one that has become “lost in the pages of American history.” (Amazon Link)

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Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton

During World War I, British and American ships were painted with bold colors and crazy patterns from bow to stern. This type of camouflage was called Razzle Dazzle. Why would anyone put such eye-catching designs on ships? Chris Barton explains why in this children’s book beautifully illustrated by Victo Ngai. (Amazon Link)


Evening Gray Morning Red

This brand new novel by gCaptain contributor and friend Rick Spilman’s first book since winning the Kirkus award for BEST BOOKS OF 2015 for his novel The Shantyman. His new book, Evening Gray Morning Red, tells the story of a young American sailor who must escape his past and the clutches of the Royal Navy, in the turbulent years just before the American Revolutionary War. (Amazon Link)


Off the Deep End: A History of Madness at Sea

How and why the sea has historically plagued those who work and play in its waves? Confined in a small space for months on end, subject to ship’s discipline and living on limited food supplies, many sailors of old lost their minds – and no wonder. Many still do. Nic Compton’s book Off the Deep End looks at the sea’s physical character, how it confuses our senses and makes rational thought difficult. It explores the long history of madness at sea and how that is echoed in the mind of modern mariners. (Amazon Link)

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In this thrilling final chapter of The Disruption Trilogy, maritime expert and friend of gCaptain R. E. McDermott once again transports us to a fictional frighteningly realistic post-apocalyptic world of chaos and uncommon courage, and of both hope and despair. Packed with a well fleshed out cast of interesting and realistic characters both animate – brave captains and Coastguardsmen – and inanimate – ships, boats and terminals –  Promises To Keep certainty keeps its promise with this page-turning, hair-raising adventure set on nearby shores ravaged by a domino fall of disasters. (Amazon Link)

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Manhattan Beach

The country is at war and Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. This magnificent novel set in and around ships is by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. (Amazon Link)

51B uJLEayL SX345 BO1 204 203 200The Death Of The Great Lakes

This book is a fluid and well-written example of modern investigative journalism that recounts the history of the Great Lakes and the problems they face due to irrigation runoff, invasive species, dredging and other man-made problems. This book is comprehensive but reads like a novel probably because Dan Egan took the time to travel the shores of the Great Lakes and talk to the men and women working on the ships, boats, ports and shores. (Amazon Link)


Ice Ghosts

This true story of the greatest mystery of Arctic exploration-and the rare mix of marine science and Inuit knowledge that led to the shipwreck’s recent discovery. Paul Watson’s book Ice Ghosts is fluid, well reported, gracefully told and exquisitely-paced book of arctic adventure. (Amazon Link)

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