What does it mean to be an island people? How has our rich and complex relationship with the sea shaped our national psyche? This beautifully illustrated exploration of Britain's maritime history sets out to discuss these questions. Brian Lavery takes the reader on a journey around the ports and harbours of Britain's coast, across rivers and along canals, climbing up lighthouses and strolling down piers. He moves with consummate skill between topics as varied as the rise of the Royal Navy or the development of specialised fisheries, the motives behind exploration and emigration or the protection of our shores from invasion, to deliver an all-encompassing history that is accessible and revealing. The pages are alive with tales of the great naval heroes, famous battles, legendary explorers and talented shipbuilders and architects. Each chapter includes a featured ship, dockyard, museum or notable maritime site, such as Chatham Dockyard, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, HMS Belfast, Liverpool's historic port, and the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh. The book is rounded off with a Gazeteer of over 100 heritage sites. The book is published as part of the major SeaBritain 2005 initiative whose aim is to co-ordinate all the various events that are planned for the Trafalgar bicentennary and promote the role that the sea plays and has played in British culture. Partners include The National Maritime Museum, The National Trust, English Heritage, the RNLI, The Royal Yachting Association and the Official Nelson Commemorative Committee, among others, with the support of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Each of these organisations has made a committment to the promotion of this book.