Author(s): Eric W. Sager
Sager argues that sailors were not misfits or outcasts but were divorced from society only by virtue of their occupation. The wooden ships were small communities at sea, fragments of normal society where workers lived, struggled, and often died. With the coming of the age of steam, the sailor became part of a new division of labour and a new social hierarchy at sea. Sager shows that the sailor was as integral to the transition to industrial capitalism as any land worker.
"Seafaring Labour is not about the wooden or iron ships or their wooden or iron captains but about real men and women in the midst of a changing work environment. It is a welcome addition to both the Canadian and growing international literature on the subject." Suzanne Morton, Labor History. "A magnificent account of merchant sailors in the age of industrial capitalism ... This is a first-class scholarly study. The depth of research is apparent of every page ... But the general reader should not be discouraged. Seafaring Labour is also remarkable for the imaginative power and elegant style of the writing, which does much to enhance the appeal of a scholarly work. As such it is doubly a contribution to a popular social history, in presentation as well as in subject matter. In all respects, Seafaring Labour is a superb achievement." David Frank, Atlantic Provinces Book Review. "A fascinating exploration of the world of the nineteenth-century seafarer. We learn about the intricacies of his craft, about the duties he performed on the complex Atlantic Canadian-owned vessels that sailed to the farthest corners of the world. Virtually everything the interested reader might want to know about recruitment, wages, working conditions, labour protest, the art of seafaring and the culture of the fo'c's'le can be found between the covers of this work." Judith Fingard, New Maritimes. "A testament to the sophistication of the best of the new working-class history." James Naylor, Acadiensis. "A valuable and an enjoyable contribution to the historiography of the merchant marines of the nineteenth century. Anyone interested in life at sea in a bygone age should read it." M.S. Partridge, The Mariner's Mirror. "A provocative study of the problems of industrial-capitalist transition in Atlantic Canada's shipping industry." Sean Cadigan, Labour/Le Travail. "Should provide stimulating and enjoyable reading to everyone interested in maritime history." Jon Press, The Journal of Transport History.