How important has the sea been in the development of human history? Very important indeed is the conclusion of this ground-breaking four-volume work. The books bring together the world's leading maritime historians, who address the question of what difference the sea has made in relation to around 250 situations ranging from the earliest times to the present. They consider, across the entire world, subjects related to human migration, trade, economic development, warfare, the building of political units including states and empires, the dissemination of ideas, culture and religion, and much more, showing how the sea was crucial to all these aspects of human development. Specific maritime subjects covered include shipbuilding, navigation, the exploitation of maritime resources, the social background of sailors and maritime communities, piracy, the financing and organisation of maritime endeavour, and many other subjects. Overall, the books represent an immense resource for all historians, providing concise overviews of virtually every subject in maritime history. CHRISTIAN BUCHET is Professor of Maritime History, Catholic University of Paris, Scientific Director of Oceanides and a member of l'Academie de marine.