Skip navigation

5 Maritime Books You Can Read to Celebrate Maritime Day

by Victoria Tolson, Education Manager

Maritime Day is a day that celebrates all of the men and women who make their living working on the water. While Maritime Day puts a particular focus on the Merchant Marines, there are hundreds of different careers, lifestyles, and hobbies that bring people to the sea. Here are a few non-fictions books that give you glimpse into the lives of real people who have chosen to live and work in partnership with the world’s waterways. For variety’s sake, I have chosen to include books that focus on other maritime careers as well!  

Five Non-Fiction Books you can read to celebrate Maritime Day:  

1. Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift 

Have you ever been curious about what it’s like to live and work in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay? This book by Earl Swift gives a detailed look into the lives of the men and women who live on Tangier Island, a small community that is only accessible by boat. This book follows a year in the life of a Waterman, which is a person who makes his or her living working on the water crabbing, oystering, and fishing. This amazing glimpse into this community will give you a new appreciation and love for the Chesapeake Bay and all of the resources that the bay provides! 


2. Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death, and Survival in the Merchant Marine by Robert Frump 

If you are looking for a book that is packed with drama and disaster, look no further. This book tells the true story of a disaster at sea and the legal ramifications that followed. Reporter Robert Frump details the events that leading to and proceeding the wreck of the Marine Electrica WWII-era carrier that had been supposedly “reconditioned” in 1962The story told in this book directly impacted the way that ships are inspected today, as well as the safety requirements for all sea-going vessels. 

3. Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew  

History-buffs and thrill-seekers alike will find these stories very hard to put down. This book tells true stories about submarine spy missions during the Cold War era. The authors give us an up-close look at what it was like to be in the cramped, high-tension environment that exists aboard a submarine, and the reader gets to experience the thrilling, dangerous, and top-secret missions on every page. 

4. Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George 

The shipping industry is arguably the most important industry to sustaining the world’s economy. In this book, Rose George goes to great lengths to give readers an idea of what goes on in this mostly unseen industry. Readers get a look into the environmental impacts, the careers in the industry, and, of course, the pirates. Pick up a copy and take a look at the industry that keeps the world’s markets “afloat”! 

5. Woody, Cisco, and Me: Seamen Three in the Merchant Marine by Jim Longhi 

Music lovers and mariners alike will enjoy this read! This is a memoir in which Longhi recounts tales from his three voyages as a merchant marine. What makes his story so interesting is that he was alongside musicians Woody Guthrie and Cicso Houston. Join the adventures of the “Seamen Three” as they experience rough seas, storms, and torpedo attacks in this fast-paced, often humorous novel.