University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Spring 2020

Mastering the Inland Seas
How Lighthouses, Navigational Aids, and Harbors Transformed the Great Lakes and America

Mastering the Inland Seas offers a broad panorama of the conflicts, policies, and personalities that created the modern navigation system on the Great Lakes. Far more than just lighthouses, it draws in the political storms of antebellum America, the federal government's role, and the long-term impact of these encounters.”
—Matthew Lawrence Daley, Grand Valley State University

Theodore J. Karamanski's sweeping maritime history demonstrates the far-ranging impact that the tools and infrastructure developed for navigating the Great Lakes had on the national economies, politics, and environment of continental North America. Synthesizing popular histories and original scholarship, Karamanski weaves a colorful narrative illustrating how disparate private and government interests transformed these vast and dangerous waters into the largest inland water transportation system in the world.

Karamanski explores both the navigational and sailing tools of First Nations peoples and the dismissive and foolhardy attitude of early European maritime sailors. He investigates the role played by commercial boats in the Underground Railroad as well as how the federal development of crucial navigational resources exacerbated sectionalism in the antebellum United States. Ultimately Mastering the Inland Seas shows the undeniable environmental impact of technologies used by the modern commercial maritime industry. This expansive story illuminates how infrastructure investment in the region's interconnected waterways contributed to North America's lasting economic and political development.

Theodore J. Karamanski is a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago. His books include Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History, Blackbird's Song: Andrew Blackbird and Odawa Survival, and North Woods River: the St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History.



“Magnificently researched and written with clarity and high energy, Karamanski's Mastering the Inland Seas tells the hidden history of how generations of maritime people—from indigenous canoe paddlers to modern mariners—navigated and domesticated the watery wilderness of the Great Lakes.”
—Robert Michael Morrisey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Download Cover: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy


Of Related Interest


A Lakeside Companion
Ted J. Rulseh


North Woods River
The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History
Theodore J. Karamanski

Mastering the Inland Seas: cover art of a light house by the shore. The entire image is tinted a dark, ominous red.

Larger images

April 2020
LC: 2019039027 HE
384 pp. 6 x 9
24 b/w illus.

Book icon
Cloth $36.95 t
ISBN 9780299326302
Shopping cart

Review Cart