From the mid-nineteenth century until the outbreak of World War Il the steamships that crossed the Pacilic changed the entire pattern of American foreign relations , trade, passenger travel, and immigration. This vast development is the subject E. Mowbray Tate's Transpacific Steam. the story of the steamship companies that took on the challenges and financial rewards of Pacific crossings, and of the ships themselves, which engaged in world cruises , exports and imports, oceanography, cable laying, and the carrying of immigrants to the United States. Although transatlantic crossings by passenger steamships had been common since about 1840, no parallel development occurred in the Pacifico In 1865 California had been a state for fifteen years, yet no transpacific steamship line existed to take passengers , timber, and agricultural products from the American West to the prosperous ports of the Orient. Australia, and New Zealand. Most people believed that only sailing ships were capable of making the 6.000-mile journey across the treacherous Pacific to Hong Kong. The distance from San Francisco to Yokohama, the nearest port, was haIf again that of the New York to Liverpool crossing, with no coaling stations along the way to provide fuel if a steamship were delayed by storm or accident. In the 1860s tbe Civil War held the attention of the American people. But when Japan at last became open to foreign trade and with the American merchant marine decimated by Confederate privateers . Congress began to look ahead. A growing nation needed the speed and dependability of steam for commerce with the Far East, and Congress authorized the payment of subsidies to whatever company could establish aline of steamers to the Orient on a regular schedule. The story starts in San Francisco with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and follows the growth and demise of competing lines over the next seventy yearsamong them the Occidental and Orientai Steamship Line; the two great steamship lines of Japan, and those of China and Australia-New Zealand; the famous Dollar Steamship Company; and the subsequent American President Line. As the transpacific routes grew, so did the chain of West-coast ports. From 1867 to 1941 the greatest among them was San Francisco, but Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Diego all were important. From these ports ships embarked on around-the- world cruises, scientific expeditions, and military crossings. The coastal steamers and the trade between the East and West coasts of the United States via Panama have been well documented; but E. Mowbray Tate’s Transpacific Steam is the first comprehensive account of the steamships that crossed the Pacific, and it makes a major contribution to American maritime history.