The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterlooby Roy Adkins, Lesley Adkins
As he did with his much lauded Nelson's Trafalgar, Roy Adkins (now writing with wife Lesley) again thrusts readers into the perils and thrills of early-nineteenth-century warfare. From its very first page, this is an adventure story-a superb account of the naval war that lasted from Napoleon's seizure of power in 1798 to the War of 1812 with the United/i>
As he did with his much lauded Nelson's Trafalgar, Roy Adkins (now writing with wife Lesley) again thrusts readers into the perils and thrills of early-nineteenth-century warfare. From its very first page, this is an adventure story-a superb account of the naval war that lasted from Napoleon's seizure of power in 1798 to the War of 1812 with the United States. Providing a ringside seat to the decisive battles, as well as detailed and vivid portraits of sailors and commanders, press-gangs, prostitutes, and spies, The War for All the Oceans is 'a rollicking, patriotic account of the Napoleonic wars that will go down well with Master and Commander fans' (The Telegraph).
Husband and wife Roy Adkins (Nelson's Trafalgar) and Lesley Adkins (Empires of the Plain) team up for this vivid account of the naval campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815). Contending that the wars were won at sea, the authors trace the nautical action from the Battle of the Nile (1798), where a British fleet "destroyed the French fleet" and stranded Napoleon's army in Egypt, to the decisive Battle of Trafalgar (1805), where the British overwhelmed a combined French and Spanish fleet supporting an invasion of Britain. The narrative concludes with an account of the protracted "war of attrition" that followed Trafalgar and ended with Bonaparte's final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. This low-grade conflict-coastal blockades and shipping raids-caught neutral nations like the United States "in the middle" and ultimately led the Americans to declare war on England in 1812-a conflict that was "never more than a sideshow" for the British. This rollicking saga ranges from the Mediterranean to the Indies, East and West, and ends with Britain in control of "the world's sea lanes"-the foundation for her future empire. Meticulously researched-drawing on extensive and intimate eyewitness accounts from contemporary journals, letters and memoirs-this lively narrative will delight students and fans of nautical history. (Aug. 20)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Roy Adkins is a historian and archaeologist. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London. His previous books include The Keys of Egypt: The Obsession to Decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Dictionary of Roman Religion, and Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome.
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I picked up this volume after going through an exhibit in a museum in St. Louis, witnessing some of the majestic contributions of the Emperor's era in terms of sculpture, paintings, and dress. Expanding my investigation, I discovered War for All the Oceans and, without reading a page or a review, purchased it. I was not dissapointed. The depth the authors Adkins reach in relating and revealing life in those times is applaudable, as is their skill at telling true stories of those remarkable figures involved. I commend this because it is not hard to attribute to most of these figures an otherworldly quality and reputation. This book presents real people in desperately trying times and conditions, and makes sure that each story is accomplished with detail, but not in a style too clincal. The authors have a genuine love and appreciation of the sea, to say nothing of a sympathy for the seemingly endless plight of the sailors. Every fight, expedition, manuever and gamble is described with the excitement one might expect from a Captain Aubrey or Horatio Hornblower novel, and the informative value of the book is just as great. One minor note, there was a definite sense of rooting on the side of the authors for the British. And while diaries and letters are presented from all sides involved, the authors want you to know that the British were going to win the whole time. Not as though you didn't know.
A comprehensive review of the naval aspect of the Napoleonic Wars which, as the authors convincingly argue, was the decisive aspect in Napoleon¿s ultimate failure. The Adkins¿ instruct the reader by explaining the meaning of the day¿s naval terms in footnotes each time they are used or quoted and cite often from the participants diaries, letters, and other reminiscences to depict what life was like fighting on the high seas.
There were several weaknesses with the book. While the extensive quoting was a strength they do often go to excess, depriving the reader of the broader contextualization and analysis that hindsight permits the historian to engage in. I would have liked to have seen more in this way from the authors. Topics and focuses are also dropped and taken up rather clumsily at points and the narrative was not as exciting as it could have been.
Nevertheless, any reader of Forrester and O¿Brien should take this book up to gain the historical basis and inspiration for Hornblower and Aubrey.
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Having said that though, it was not nearly as good as I had hoped. The Adkins have done a terrific job of collecting and organizing all of the personal vignettes and anecdotes associated with the Royal Navy's 20+ years of naval warfare with France and its allies during the Napoleonic wars. I think I might have liked a bit more of the strategy and tactics, with maps, associated with the major fleet actions; and I think the book was badly served by leaving out a more detailed description of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Adkins literally spent about a page and a half on Trafalgar, and then had the chutzpah to include a footnote reference to their book on Trafalgar. All in all though, I am glad that I read "The War for All the Oceans" as it gave me a firmer historical foundation and a context in which to place some of the activities and adventures described by Patrick O'Brian in his brilliant Aubrey-Maturin series of historical naval fiction.