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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Naval History

Heart of Oak: A Sailory;s Life in Nelson's Navy by James P. McGuane (W.W. Norton) “Fids, deadeyes, seam rubbers – these might seem merely mute, opaque relics. But as James McGuane`marshals scores of such tools in Heart of Oak, they not only prove curiously beautiful, but offer us an intimate, wholly accessible vision of working life in Nelson’s navy.” – Richard Snow |/span>

From snuff-boxes to carronades: Heart of Oak, a 10-by-11-inch volume, is a high-quality photographic essay on Jack Aubrey's world, inspired by the author's reading of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. In small museums along the English coast, and in private collections, McGuane has searched out and recorded artifacts recovered from shipwrecks and preserved by modern techniques. Thanks to advances in marine archaeology, it has often been possible to establish the exact identity of a wrecked warship, along with the date and circumstances of its sinking. We are thus provided with a moment frozen in`time: tools, clothing, utensils, weapons, and fragments of the M ship itself startlingly intact. Taken together, these unique treasures provide a window onto the everyday life of sailors and officers in the Royal Navy of the Napoleonic era.

Also photographed for this volume is Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, proudly preserved at Portsmouth |span style="mso-bookmark:03930474905000">. Victory survived the`great fleet action at Trafalgar, as Nelson himself did not, and is still a commissioned ship in the Royal Navy.

Heart of Oak is a visually exciting book, a historic treasure, with 280 color illustrations and photographs; through the details of everyday life, from the corner of an execution chamber to the handmade trousers, to the shell-decorated sewing basket, it takes you inside the time and ship of long ago – it takes you back to a place you’ve never been.

Precursors of Nelson: British Admirals of the Eighteenth Century edited by Peter Le Fevre and Richard Harding (Stackpole) Although Nelson dominates the naval history of the late eighteenth century, in many respects his achievements marked the culmination of a developing tactical tradition in the Royal Navy. The contribution of his predecessors has been neglected, however, largely because so few admirals have received proper modern study. Precursors of Nelson adjusts the record by providing a series of in-depth biographical essays of the most important figures of the period, each written by a well-known specialist in the field. Contributors include Peter le Fevre on Torrington, John B. Hattendorf on Rook and Shovell, Timothy Bean and Ann Coats on Leake, Chris Ware on Byng, David Aldridge on Norris, Daniel Baugh on Wager, Richard Harding on Vernon, Nicolas Rodger on Anson, Ruddock Mackay on Hawke, Kenneth Breen on Rodney, Roger Knight on Howe, Michael Duffy on Hood, Roger Morris on Barham, Pat Crimmin on St. Vincent, Andrew Lambert on Cornwallis, and Brian Lavery on Keith.

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