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Heart of Oak Paperback – January 25, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sheridan House; 1st pbk. ed edition (January 25, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574090194
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574090192
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tristan Jones, a legendary sailor, is the author of 16 books, including Saga of a Wayward Sailor, The Incredible Voyage and Yarns. He left school at the age of 14 to work on sailing barges and spent the rest of his life at sea--in the Royal Navy, as a delivery skipper, and as a daring seagoing adventurer travelling the world in search of new and ever greater challenges.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Always the consumate story teller, Tristan Jones relates his experiences as an enlisted man in the Royal Navy with a sense of realism that is so missing from many other accounts. In particular, his ability to put the reader into the world of the matelots (enlisted sailors) sheds light on a part of military history that has often been ignored. This is of particular importance when looking at the WWII Royal Navy, with it's rigid class divisions and the almost parallel worlds that existed between officers and men on RN ships. Many WWII accounts came from RN officers, with their often highly paternalistic and class bound accounts of the actions of their ships and crews. Jones takes you inside the very dynamic societies that existed in those thin skinned steel tombs that sailed the Atlantic.
Jones's account also offers a rare glimpse of the world of the boy sailor, a rank now abolished but the starting point for many of the previous generations of RN sailors. I personally met a WWII vet who, like Jones, had started as a boy sailor in the Royal Navy, and he vouched for the accuracy of Jones's tale.
An excellent read, and a often gripping look at the life of the ordinary (and often extraordinary) men who sailed the ships that won the war.
Highly recommended
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Schwartz on August 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Heart of Oak is one the finest war books and sea stories that I have read. I found it hard to put down. Although the intensity of the war and its effects on the men was depressing, I was compelled to keep reading.
Jones' gives the reader a different and personal perspective--that of the lowly, poor, and teenage sailor; looked down upon by everyone else and facing death, boredom, and discomfort constantly.
I agree with another reviewer that it is unlikely that Jones witnessed as much as he claimed, and I cannot attest to the accuracy of his descriptions of life aboard His Majesty's Navy, but there is a truthfullness and sincerity in Jones' narative that I find totally convincing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
A welshman's soulful and realistic retelling of a matelot's live in Her Majesty's Navy during the dark days of World War II. Tristan Jones recounts his experiences with all the colour and song of a poet; a sea poet - and that he is. The lives of these men carry with you long after reading this book. Put Tristan Jones near the top of my favorite author's list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
A very good example of the British Navy during WWII. Can it be proven that he saw both the Hood and the Bismark go down? Who cares! It is still a wonderful read as only Tristan can tell.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Graeme J. W. Smith on June 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a terrific book - and I have enjoyed it for many years. However I recently discovered it is - as Anthony Dalton's new biography of Jones shows - complete fiction - in the sense that Jones was never at any of the events he described. In fact he didn't join the Royal Navy till AFTER World War II.

But that is not to diminish the writing of the tale - Jones imaginings make for a "real" perspective of life in the lower decks of the WWII Royal Navy - and I imagne that in his immediate post-was career in the navy he learned enough to set the scene accurately.

But remember - it is a work of fiction - set on a real historical timeline - but still a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Concerned Reader on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book many years ago. I greatly enjoyed it, as it had a veracity to its description of lower-deck life. I re-read it recently, and still enjoyed it.

I suppose I should have realized that it was fiction, as I don't think there ever was an E-class destroyer "HMS Eclectic", and no destroyer of that name sailed with HMS Hood and Prince of Wales to intercept the Bismarck (HMS Electra was in that group and picked up the 3 survivors from HMS Hood), as Jones claims. Nor was there a destroyer of that name that sailed with HMS King George V from Scapa Flow, nor did one join the action later from convoys. Some of the details of the action are also inaccurate, but not badly so for a supposed personal narrative (e.g., 6" secondary armament on KGV, when they were 5.25")

Similarly, while there were four O-class destroyers involved in the sinking of the Scharnhorst, there was no "HMS Obstinate" (Jones' ship), nor was one of that name ever commissioned.

Anthony Dalton's biography of Jones seems to paint him as a very interesting, but less-than-pleasant person. It certainly seems to have nailed any notion of Jones' books being other than substantially fiction. The history of the author does seem to add an extra level of interest to the stories. But that said, the stories are good, the feel for characters is strong, and they are very readable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By moose/squirrel on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Timothy Dalton's bio of Jones, "Wayward Sailor," proves that this wonderfully written and evocative book about life on a British warship in World War II is fiction. Dalton cites official records showing that Tristan Jones, first-person narrator of this supposed memoir, did not join the RN until 1946, when the war was over. All of Jones's books are novels, some spun virtually from whole cloth.

I hate fakes. One star.

If, however, you want to read an outstanding novel of the war at sea, "Heart of Oak" won't let you down. Its take on the period is very convincing (obviously!) and Jones clearly makes good use of the stories he must have heard from his real navy shipmates in the immediate postwar period.

I love well-written novels. Five stars.

But I hate fakes. One star.
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