Synopses & Reviews
To Rule the Waves
tells the extraordinary story of how Britain's Royal Navy allowed one nation to rise to power unprecedented in history. From its beginnings under Henry VIII and adventurers like John Hawkins and Francis Drake, the Royal Navy toppled one world economic system, built by Spain and Portugal after Christopher Columbus, and ushered in another the one in which we still live today.
In the sixteenth century, such men as Hawkins, Drake, and Martin Frobisher were all seekers after their own fortunes as well as servants of their nation. But at the moment of crisis in 1588, they were able to come together to thwart Philip II of Spain and his supposedly invincible Armada. In the seventeenth century, the navy became the key to victory in the English Civil War and played a leading role on the world stage in the years of the Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate. The navy's dominance allowed England's trade to boom and prosper. It sustained its colonies, reshaped its politics, and drew England, Scotland, and Ireland together into a single United Kingdom.
It was this system that Napoleon had to break in order to make himself absolute master of Europe. And it was the Royal Navy, led by men like Horatio Nelson, that stopped him in his tracks and preserved the liberty of Europe and the rest of the world. That global order would survive the convulsions of the twentieth century and the downfall of the British Empire itself, as Britain passed its essential elements on to its successors, the United States and its navy.
Illuminating and engrossing, To Rule the Waves is an epic journey from the age of the Reformation to the age of computer warfare and special ops. Arthur Herman tells the spellbinding tale of great battles at sea; of heroic sailors, admirals, and aviators; of violent conflict and personal tragedy; of the way one mighty institution forged a nation, an empire, and a new world.
"The author of How the Scots Invented the Modern World returns with this quite splendid history of the British Royal Navy. Probably to no one's surprise, his thesis is that the British Empire was the foundation of the modern world and the Royal Navy the foundation of that empire. By and large, he sustains that thesis in a fluent narrative that stretches from the Elizabethan Age to the Falklands War. Although definitely Anglocentric and navalist, the author has done his research on a scale that such a large topic (to say nothing of a large book) requires. The Royal Navy's discipline and food in the age of sail may not deserve quite as much rehabilitation as he gives them, but on the other hand, he is frank about the limitations of British warship design, poor Victorian gunnery and lack of preparations for antisubmarine warfare between the world wars. He also writes extremely well, whether dealing with the role of the Royal Navy in founding the British iron and steel industries (it was a major customer) or grand battles, such as Quiberon Bay (1759) or Trafalgar (1805). Good one-volume histories of one of the modern world's most vital fighting forces appear rarely; this one should rule for a while to come. Agent, Glen Hartley." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There's plenty of courage and endurance here. Herman's thesis is less than groundbreaking, but his narrative ought to please fans of Aubrey and Hornblower and even the Tudor kings." Kirkus Reviews
"This is an exciting chronicle filled with colorful characters and enthralling adventures...Herman also relates stories and exploits of more obscure but equally compelling figures who helped establish and preserve the greatest maritime empire in history." Booklist
An epic history of the Royal Navy from the Spanish Armada to the present tells the story of how the British dominated the world and laid the foundation for the modern age.
About the Author
Arthur Herman is the author of How the Scots Invented the Modern World as well as The Idea of Decline in Western History and Joseph McCarthy. He has been a professor of history at Georgetown University, Catholic University, George Mason University, and the University of the South.