The great merchant sailing ships were the original apparatus of globalisation. They brought the East and West together, carrying goods back and forth to the benefit of both, and turning world’s oceans into marine highways. Along them would travel all manner of goods in unheard of volumes – gold, silver, gems, spices coffee, tea and other foodstuffs – as well as ideas, attitudes, religion and disease. Besides their superior armament, the ships’ masters felt they were racially and religiously superior. Their vessels became instruments of colonial conquest, aiding the rise of the West over the much more populous East. They also enabled the opium and slave trades. For better and for worse, they made the modern world. The Great Windships tells an epic story that stretches from the fragile vessels of the Age of Exploration to the mighty windjammers of the late nineteenth century. It follows how the nations of the West participated in this great adventure – their triumphs and shortcomings and the contributions each made to the development of the sailing ship. Full of drama, deceit, high-seas adventure and knowledge, this is a book for anyone who’s ever gazed in awe at a mighty tall ship; or been curious as to their ability and the vital role in the evolution of the modern world.