Book Review:
Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation, 1793 to 1815

By Brian Lavery
Conway Maritime Press

If you are a fan of naval warfare during the Napoleonic Era and are looking for a one-volume title to cover the subject then search no further.

For Nelson's Navy, by Brian Lavery, is guaranteed to have something on everything you could possibly think of - and a great deal more - in its large-format 350+ pages.

It truly is a colossal work and superbly examines all aspects of the British Royal Navy from its organisation, to ship types, to officers training, the crew, marines, ship handling, life on the ocean waves, dockyards, bases, fleets and ship distribution, tactics, signals, blockading, amphibious operations and much more.

And if that isn't enough, Lavery adds in some pretty solid information on the navies that faced off against Britain - those of the French, Spanish and American - as well as the Danes, Swedes, Turks, Barbary pirates.

Underscoring the depth of the information available here, each main chapter is broken up into at least four sub-chapters that take the reader into rich new areas of exploration.

Do you want to know about the different types of vessels, how many masts they had, the sail configurations, how ropes and knots were tied and ships rigged? Takes about two minutes…

Or how about where British fleets were deployed around the globe? Maybe you want to know the heirachy above and below decks on a British warship, the types of punishment (in detail), why the mutinies of 1797 occurred and how Britain used Press Gangs to keep its wooden walls well crewed with men.

It is all here in an easy to get at way.

Now the textual information is backed by a huge collection of images - photographs, line drawings, maps, graphics and cartoons. They include historical pictures of sailors and their lives, depictions of battles and the gundecks of ships, as well as photos of the interior of the HMS Victory.

For mine some of the most interesting are the technical drawings that show the various parts of masts, deck configurations, crew allocation and positioning, weapons, ship hulls and more.

Brian Lavery has done sailing ship devotees proud with this stunning volume of work and I can heartily recommend it as being the first book to buy if you are interested in Nelson's Navy.


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