The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo

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Roy Adkins, with his wife, Lesley, returns to the Napoleonic War in The War for All the Oceans, a gripping account of the naval struggle that lasted from 1798 to 1815, a period marked at the beginning by Napoleon's seizing power and at the end by the War of 1812. In this vivid and visceral account, Adkins draws on eyewitness records to portray not only the battles but also the details of a sailor's life?shipwrecks, press-gangs, prostitutes, spies, and prisoners of war.

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The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo

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Roy Adkins, with his wife, Lesley, returns to the Napoleonic War in The War for All the Oceans, a gripping account of the naval struggle that lasted from 1798 to 1815, a period marked at the beginning by Napoleon's seizing power and at the end by the War of 1812. In this vivid and visceral account, Adkins draws on eyewitness records to portray not only the battles but also the details of a sailor's life—shipwrecks, press-gangs, prostitutes, spies, and prisoners of war.

The War for All the Oceans is epic narrative history sure to appeal to fans of Patrick O'Brian and C. S. Forester, as well as all readers of military and social history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Vivid.... [A] rollicking saga." —-Publishers Weekly
In the nineteenth century, the British created the greatest maritime-based empire in world history. That empire was made possible by the domination of the Royal Navy, which was forged in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries in the fires of the Napoleonic Wars. The Adkins, who are both historians and archaeologists, have written a narrative history of British naval conflicts from 1798 to 1815. In that span, the Royal Navy engaged almost every major naval power, including France, Spain, Holland, and even the U.S. Naturally, the Adkins describe the exploits of naval icons, including Nelson and Hood, but their account is most engrossing when they utilize eyewitness accounts of ordinary seamen to capture the intensity of battle as well as the grind of day-to-day life aboard a warship. The Adkins display such superb technological knowledge of their subject that they can be excused for their occasional delving into "Britannica Rules the Waves" enthusiasm. A superior work of maritime history that both scholars and general readers should enjoy.
Sunday Times (London)
A drama of blazing ships and broadsides and the awesome power of the elements
Publishers Weekly

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
Kirkus Reviews
Sumptuous storytelling recreates the first worldwide war. Known as "The Great War" until World War I, the Napoleonic Wars embroiled Britain and other nations in conflict with France for a decade (1804-15), as Napoleon Bonaparte sought to create an empire in Europe. In this vivid history, husband-and-wife historians Roy (Nelson's Trafalgar, 2005) and Lesley (Empires of the Plain, 2004) take us from the audacious, supposedly invincible Napoleon's disastrous effort to conquer Egypt to his complete military defeat at Waterloo and England's rise as supreme naval power. Besides recounting major sea battles (involving Spain, Denmark, Russia, Turkey and other nations), the authors illuminate aspects of life at war and on the home fronts, quoting from diaries, letters and journals. We see Britain wild over Horatio Nelson after his defeat of the French at Trafalgar ("Joy, joy, joy to you, brave, gallant, immortalized Nelson!" wrote Countess Spencer in London); sailors suffering from lack of food and water and the scourges of smallpox and yellow fever; the brutal recruiting (impressments) of seamen to build the British navy; and the imprisonment of more than 100,000 captured Frenchmen in cramped British hulks that became tourist attractions. In that low-tech era, information about the enemy was hard to come by, communication difficult (even within one's own fleet) and hysteria rampant: Many British wondered whether the relentless Napoleon (seen only in drawings) was a creature from hell. American inventor Robert Fulton figures in the story, working for the British under the code name "Mr. Francis" to devise torpedo bombs used against anchored French ships. While charting the bitter rivalry betweenBritain and France, the Adkins also show how British trade restrictions plunged the young United States into the War of 1812, which destroyed Washington, D.C., but ranked as a mere sideshow for England. This real-life action will delight fans of fictional heroes from the same war-Horatio Hornblower (C.S. Forester) and Richard Sharpe (Bernard Cornwell).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400134830
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Roy Adkins, a historian and an archaeologist, is the author of the bestselling Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist, Patrick Lawlor is also an accomplished stage actor.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    Interesting and sweeping

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Background for Hornblower and Aubrey

    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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>Nevertheless, any reader of Forrester and O¿Brien should take this book up to gain the historical basis and inspiration for Hornblower and Aubrey.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    The War For All the Oceans

    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.

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    Posted September 21, 2010

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    Posted November 7, 2008

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    Posted April 8, 2013

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