An atlas of maritime history should include not only places and areas of naval interest illustrating alterations in the balance of sea power, but the ports and routes used by merchant shipping, because the latter forms an integral part, indeed is the basis of sea power, properly understood. Moreover, since maritime history is an aspect of economic and political history there must be some indications of the politico-geographical situation at any given point of time.
For such reasons the following maps, together with their explanatory texts and illustrations, aim at displaying the maritime history of the western nations from the time of the Greeks and the Phoenicians to that of the Americans and the Russians of the present day. This atlas is therefore addressed to those who are interested in economic as well as naval history, to those who are concerned with the story of maritime exploration as much as with changing patterns of maritime strategy. It is not a history of tactics (though diagrammatic plans of notable battles from Salamis to Leyte Gulf are included), or of the evolution of the ship, though there are numerous illustrations included in the text.
Rather, it illustrates a series of strategic and commercial situations seen in a geographical aspect. In a work covering such an enormous stretch of time it is obvious that only the most significant places and events can be shown. In the texts which accompany each map one is compelled to paint a broad picture with summary generalizations which may well deserve qualification in detail. I can only trust that the reader will be indulgent enough to accept such inevitable shortcomings and to overlook any minor errors to which the flesh is heir. It is hoped, at least, that he will be able to find the place he is looking for, whether it be Actium, Lepanto. Hampton Roads or Abu Dhabi.
The pageantry of maritime history, the opening of the ocean routes, the battles for supremacy at sea, the voyages of the great explorers and those of the merchant adventurers, whether from the cities of the Hanseatic League, the barracoons of the slave traders or the oil ports of the Persian Gulf, are here delineated.