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Patrick O'Brian's Navy

Patrick O'Brian's Navy

3.5 6
by Richard O'Neill, David Miller, Hardlines Staff (Illustrator), Chris Chant, Clive Wilkinson

From the moment that Master and Commander, the first of Patrick O'Brian's sequence of 20 novels about the 19th century British Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and his surgeon colleague Stephen Maturin, was published in 1970, critics hailed his work as a masterpiece of historical recreation. Called "the best historical novels ever written" by the New York


From the moment that Master and Commander, the first of Patrick O'Brian's sequence of 20 novels about the 19th century British Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and his surgeon colleague Stephen Maturin, was published in 1970, critics hailed his work as a masterpiece of historical recreation. Called "the best historical novels ever written" by the New York Times, the books have sold millions of copies. This first full-color illustrated companion to the Aubrey-Maturin series, timed to coincide with the release of the blockbuster Twentieth-Century Fox film adaptation starring Russell Crowe, explains the fascinating physical details of Jack Aubrey's fictional world. An in-depth historical reference, it brings to life the political, cultural, and physical setting of O'Brian's novels. Annotated drawings, paintings, and diagrams reveal the complex parts of a ship and its rigging, weaponry, crew quarters and duties, below-deck conditions, and fighting tactics, while maps illustrate the location featured in each novel.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
O'Neill (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Warships) has produced a full-color reference book that, despite its somewhat misleading title, may turn out to be a useful purchase for followers of O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. The majority of the intelligently selected period paintings and drawings come from the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth, England, and the National Maritime Museum; that they are gathered under one cover is certainly a major strength of the book. In addition to the illustrations, O'Neill provides a well-researched historical account of what was going on during the Napoleonic Wars, a glossary of nautical terminology, and a "cast list" both of major fictional characters and of historical personalities encountered in the novels. For good measure, they also include throughout a series of informational boxes titled "Through Aubrey's Eyes" that provide links between the factual material and scenes and events from the O'Brian novels. Not quite as authoritative as Brian Lavery's Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1783- 1815 or as helpful as Dean King's A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O'Brian's Seafaring Tales, this may be an attractive acquisition for large public libraries with an interest both in O'Brian's novels and in the iconography of sea warfare during the Napoleonic era.-Robert C. Jones, formerly with Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.04(w) x 11.02(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Richard O'Neill is a writer and editor who has specialized in military history for the past 40 years. He is the author of Suicide Squads, a history of the weapons and missions of the Special Attack units of World War II. He has contributed to many books on weaponry and military history, including The Complete Encyclopedia of 20th Century Warships, The Vietnam War and, most recently, An Illustrated History of the Royal Navy. He was a major contributor to Lands And Peoples, a multi-volume educational work, and wrote Presidents of the United States for the Facts America series. He is also the author of The Middle Ages and World War II for the "Historical Facts" illustrated series.

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Patrick O'Brian's Navy 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
By Bill Marsano. So far as publishers are concerned, they ain't over till they're over. I speak of (and they profit from) World War II and the Age of Fighting Sail. The former recently gave us 'The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors,' a fine (and rare) account of our Navy's noblest victory; now the latter brings us 'Patrick O'Brian's Navy'--which is not, please note, just for O'Brian fans. All in all the book does an excellent job of conveying the context--from the British side--of the Royal Navy during its years of near-constant war with the French. It's large in format, heavily and handsomely illustrated with contemporary paintings, engravings, watercolors and cartoons as well as modern diagrams and maps. All are generously displayed. The text sometimes struggles to work its way around them, especially as there are frequent over-sized quotations and framed text blocks ('sidebars' containing abstracts from contemporary diaries and news reports) that occupy their own spaces. Battle coverage is terrific. The Royal Navy's great triumphs are well detailed, as are several notable if not-so-well-known small actions, chosen for their display of aubreyesque daring and dash. And Lord Cochrane, one of the primary inspirations for Aubrey, gets extensive copverage all by his heroic self. The Royal Navy's internal world is also very nicely explored--ratings and ranks; manning and management (and mismanagement: mutinies are included); rigs and rigging, and--just when we run out of Frenchmen, pirates and slavers. Organization is something of a problem. There's a tendency, once an picture-heavy design is established, for the text to be straitjacketed, for subjects be treated equally but inadequately, because the designers allot them just so much room and no more, and the text must be squeezed or cut to fit. Here, for example, gunnery has so little space that we get but a glance at the 32-pounder and never hear of carronades until another section many pages later. As a result, weaponry is merely sketched. Likewise with that frequent O'Brian phenomenon, the 'weather gauge'--not well explained, and divided between two sections. Medicine at sea? Considering the importance of Stephen Maturin in the O'Brian series, it's almost ignored. The book doesn't explain, and none can, the incredible fighting spirit of the British sailor, be he Jack Tar or Dick Nastyface. They were badly paid, ill fed and worse housed; they got little respect ashore or afloat; they risked death for mutiny and yet in the middle of a mutiny rallied round so soon as the French poked a masthead above the horizon--and then they'd beat the tar out of them more often than not. Best thing to do is read this book through and then re-read the Aubrey-Maturin series all over again.--Bill Marsano is a professional writer and editor, and a generally boatful person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent, informative, well-illustrated guide to the times and conditions of the Royal Navy in JA's time. I highly recommend it. I especially enjoyed the listing towards the end of all the main characters in the books and their intricate relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must have to help educate "landlubbers" or those with little sailing experience understand the terms used throughout the Audrey/Materin series. My only disappointment is that it does not include a map of the voyages, which, if included, would be a penultimate compliment to the books. Very nice concise explanations of the types of ships, naval terms, and hierarchy of the Royal Navy as well as cross section diagrams and illustrations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are trying to read the Aubrey/Maturin series and you're having a hard time understanding the Royal Navy's lingo during the time of the Napoleanic Wars, this is the book to read first. It explains all the naval terms, not to mention the talk of that time period the 'Master and Commander' series is in. Then enjoy the 21 book series, I did.