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The Argonauta Book Reviews

By H.T. Holman

The full text of Argonauta's back issues are available, and the chronicles of the CNRS's early years and development are now accessible. The newsletter provides a picture of the CNRS's growth, but it also reveals a wealth of information about nautical research in Canada in the 1980s and beyond. In its early years, Argonauta published a great deal of research information in the form of notes, queries, and short articles – some of which were destined to re-appear in later forms as books or articles in The Northern Mariner and other journals.

Beginning with almost the first issue of Argonauta, the inclusion of book reviews by CNRS members and others was recognized as having a value for the entire research community. The reviews were part of the discussion among members about the role of the organization and the need to strike a balance between those with academic and those with avocational interests – not that those descriptors are mutually exclusive. The book review section appealed to everyone.

The book review section is currently one of the strengths of The Northern Mariner – it moved over when the CNRS began its academic publication in 1990 – but, in reality, it was merely the continuation of the feature first established in Argonauta. Indeed, between 1984 and 1989, the newsletter published nearly 160 book reviews. The scope of these reviews was wide, and this continues in the current review policy of The Northern Mariner; it covers everything from formal academic tomes to more popular literature on nautical topics. As well, many of the Argonauta reviews were penned by those who were – or were to become – the leading authorities in Canadian and international nautical research. Argo's list of reviewers is a who's who of the maritime research world, and texts reviewed in the newsletter in those early years became, in many cases, the standard references in the field.

While the reviews in The Northern Mariner are accessible though the continued indexing and full–text access to online issues, the rich Argonauta reviews formerly required access to hard copies of the newsletter, which few collections contained. Even now, though the full copies are available online, they remain in a format that is difficult to search and most access is still through browsing.

Browsing Argonauta's back issues has given me a lot of pleasure, and reading the book reviews has been especially satisfying. In the hopes of making this gem of Argo's early years more accessible, I have compiled a list of all Argo's reviews, indexed by author name, book title, date of publication, reviewer, and issue – click on column headings to sort up/down.

Happy reading!



Canadian Nautical Research Society - Société canadienne pour la recherche nautique
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Last revised: 23 March 2022
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