Nemesis: The First Iron Warship and Her World

Adrian G. Marshall is a retired academic, and the author of The Singapore Letters of Benjamin Cook 1854–1855.

NUS Press
Publication Year: 2015
392 pages


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The Nemesis was the first of a generation of iron-clad, steam-powered naval vessels that established British dominance in Asian waters in the nineteenth century. The world’s first iron warship, the first vessel with truly watertight compartments, and the first iron vessel to round the Cape of Good Hope, Nemesis represented a staggering superiority over the oar- and sail-powered naval forces of Britain’s Asian rivals. Yet strangely her story has never been told to modern audiences, and her origins and actions have until now been shrouded in mystery. This lively narrative places her in the historical context of the last years of the East India Company, and in the history of steam power and iron ships. It tells of her exploits in the First Opium War, in pirate suppression and naval actions across Asia, from Bombay to Burma to the Yangtze River and beyond.

“History buffs would definitely enjoy this read as it provides an extensive historical context of the last years of the East India Company.” – BBC Knowledge Magazine Asia (Vol. 8 Issue 5)

“…a rich and detailed analysis of Nemesis’ career within a book that is solidly written, making it an ideal read for nautical history aficionados.” – Sandy Clarke, The Star 

“… Marshall does a good job of providing a new perspective on the history of the South China Sea from 1840 to 1855 informed by the rapid evolution of nautical technology.” – Bill Purves

“… for those with a love of the navy, or an interest in the British involvement in China and Southeast Asia, one surely not to be missed.” – Josh Provan

“[Marshall] provides a balanced view of the [Opium] war, allotting both sides praise and blame and avoiding the popular ‘Chinese good, foreigner bad’ account …. the impact of steam and iron on the British Empire is all here. Every nut and bolt of it.” – Peter Neville-Hadley, The Wall Street Journal

Weight 0.595 kg
Dimensions 22.9 × 0.5 × 15.2 cm




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