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 naviesFrench, Dutch, Spanish, and Americanallows him to make a fresh assessment of the qualities of the British. 24 pages of illustrations....Continua
This very large book contains such detail about the naval history of Britain from 1649-1815 that it has taken me some considerable time to complete. However, for anyone interested in naval history this is the book to read. We can certainly appreciate the peace that we have had since the end of WW2 when we read a book like this. There were very few periods in our history of sustained peace. Though we were not invaded, the nation was at war in one or more places throughout the world. Families were losing their sons, husbands, brothers, friends and neighbours through battles on land and sea. Much of the time we were defending our freedom to exit, but often denying that same freedom to other nations, or groups of peoples - if they opposed us - in the search for material resources for ourselves. Though the monarch might have a great deal to say about policy, it was the parliamentary system that acted as a check to what actually happened. This is seen again and again as Rodger unfolds this drama of fascinating naval history. Here we have a record of brilliant captains and commanders of ships, and ships full of men (and sometimes women) working together to defeat the enemy. Of course not all those who commanded the ships were bold or courageous, and often battles were lost because a captain failed to pursue or attack the enemy.
The British Navy gradually achieved a position of renown among the navies of the rest of the world. Not only - at one period - did she have more ships than the rest of the world put together, she had the cleanest ships (as opposed to the French ships which were filthy) and consequently less illness. Gunnery practice meant also that her crews were able to maintain a rate of fire far superior to those of her enemies. It was also seen that if captains and crews worked well together - happy ships - then the results in times of crisis were of a higher order. Few ships could stay at sea for an long period due to the need to restock their food and water supplies. The British Navy overcame this problem by restocking at sea, so that the navy could stay on blockade duty for long periods of time without any subsequent ill effect on the crews, and a definite blow to the enemy.
These are just some of the thoughts that have registered with me as I finished this marvellous book. There are many more - but time forbids me go on....Continua