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The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815by N A Rodger
"Rodger's appraisal of logistics and bureaucracy is the most penetrating and skillful I've encountered. Only a writer of verve could make these potentially deadening subjects compelling. It must have been tempting for Rodger to rely solely on his staggering erudition (he cites sources written in a dozen languages) and the sure knowledge that regardless of its literary qualities, his book will be the definitive treatment of its subject for at least a century....But there's not a lazy sentence here, and a keen intelligence propels every paragraph." Benjamin Schwarz, the Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
The Command of the Oceans describes with unprecedented authority and scholarship the rise of Britain to naval greatness, and the central place of the Navy and naval activity in the life of the nation and government. Based on the author's own research in a dozen languages over more than a decade, it describes not just battles, voyages, and cruises but also how the Navy was manned, supplied, fed, and above all, how it was financial and directed.
N. A. M. Rodger provides convincing reassessments of such famous figures as Pepys. Hawkie, Howe, and St. Vincent. The very particular and distinct qualities of Nelson and Collingswood are illuminatingly contrasted, and the world of officers and men who make up the originals of Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower is brilliantly brought to life. Rodger's comparative view of other navies — French, Dutch, Spanish, and American — allows him to make a fresh assessment of the qualities of the British.
"The adjective 'magisterial' is justified for this colossal second volume of a complete history of British sea power, which began with The Safeguard of the Sea (1998); the author of the classic 18th-century British naval history, The Wooden World, has surpassed himself here. The book opens with the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1649; for its duration there were two British navies, the Commonwealth Navy (which laid the foundations for a professional officer corps and fought the First Dutch War of 1652 — 1654) and a semipiratical Royalist Navy-in-Exile. After the Restoration, we quickly find the diarist Samuel Pepys exercising less literary but more permanent influence as secretary (or chief administrative officer) of the admiralty. The book offers colossal amounts of information (organized sometimes thematically, sometimes chronologically) right through to its endpoint of 1815, accompanied by a formidable set of notes and bibliography, as well as 24 pages of illustrations. The author not only avoids a hagiography of famous admirals but displays psychological insight in his portraits of, for example, the trio of Lord St. Vincent, his protg Nelson and Nelson's indispensable second, Collingwood. Rodger also demonstrates a firm grasp of the relationship of technical subjects (the amount of tar caulking a ship needed) to British strategy (keeping the Baltic sources of tar accessible). Readers without an intense interest in the subject may be daunted; readers without some background knowledge in British social history may be somewhat at sea in the author's discussion of the officer corps and the recruitment of sailors (usually through the press-gang). Serious students of naval history, however, will find this absolutely indispensable; this is the place to find out whence the navy of Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower came. Agent, Peter Robinson at Curtin Brown (London)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Rodger again combines high academic scholarship with a lively narrative that explains how the political and social history of Britain has been inextricably intertwined with the strengths and weaknesses of her sea power." Library Journal
An Best Book of 2004: "Destined to remain the reference on the subject for the coming generations."--U.S. Naval Institute
As Mr. Rodger demonstrates on almost every page, if you do not understand the importance of British maritime history, you can never fully understand Britain.Rodger illuminates the world of Nelson and Hardy and its portrayal by C. F. Forrester in the Hornblower novels and Patrick O’Brian in the Aubrey and Maturin cycle . . . to understand the Royal Navy at its peak, Rodger’s account is indispensable
The Command of the Ocean describes with unprecedented authority and scholarship the rise of Britain to naval greatness, and the central place of the Navy and naval activity in the life of the nation and government. Based on the author's own research in a dozen languages over more than a decade, it describes not just battles, voyages, and cruises but also how the Navy was manned, supplied, fed, and, above all, how it was financed and directed.
N. A. M. Rodger provides convincing reassessments of such famous figures as Pepys, Hawke, Howe, and St. Vincent. The very particular and distinct qualities of Nelson and Collingwood are illuminatingly contrasted, and the world of officers and men who make up the originals of Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower is brilliantly brought to life. Rodger's comparative view of other navies--French, Dutch, Spanish, and American--allows him to make a fresh assessment of the qualities of the British.
About the Author
N. A. M. Rodger is professor of naval history at Exeter University and a fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of The Wooden World and the highly acclaimed volumes of his naval history of Britain, The Safeguard of the Sea and The Command of the Ocean. He lives in England.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History