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Men-of-War: Life in Nelson's Navy Hardcover – November 17, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Any Aubrey Maturin reader determined to learn the locations of the orlop and the mizenmast, the etiquette of epaulettes, or the range of a 32-pounder will delight in this invaluable reference companion to O'Brian's epic and series. An exploration of what daily life was like in Nelson's navy, for everyone from the captain on down to the rawest recruit. Line drawings and charts help us understand the construction and rigging of the great ships, the types and dispositions of the guns, and how they operated in battle. Contemporary drawings and cartoons illustrate aspects of naval life from the press gang to the scullery. Finally, a generous selection of full-color paintings renders the majesty and the excitement of fleet actions in the age of fighting sail.

From Library Journal

O'Brian, author of the Aubrey/Maturin sea novels (e.g., The Commodore, Norton, 1995), has compiled this 96-page collection of facts on Lord Nelson's navy. The author describes the ships, guns, crew's life, and songs of the sailors. Most of this information can be found elsewhere and none of it will be new to dedicated naval buffs. Readers of the novels of Dudley Pope, C.S. Forester, and O'Brian who are interested in the difference in armament between frigates and men-of-war or the daily rations of sailors in Nelson's time may find this of value. At $23, it would seem suitable for libraries with strong collections in naval history.?Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393038580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393038583
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In addition to twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many books include "Testimonies," "The Golden Ocean," and "The Unknown Shore". O'Brian also wrote acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biographies of Charles de Gaulle. He passed away in January 2000 at the age of 85.

Customer Reviews

I read this book in an afternoon.
Jamil Bhatti
Information is brilliantly illustrated by color photos of paintings, drawings, cartoons and models of sailing vessels.
Charles Slovenski
Patrick O'Brian's lead characters, Capt.
gilly8

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
While written in Mr. O'Brian's usual lucid style and accompanied by useful line drawings and full-color plates of paintings, the "book" is so thinly written that really only qualifies as an appendix to one of the Aubrey Maturin books.

As an appendix packaged as a book, it offers only 91 pages of small paper size and large type. Perhaps it was meant to be a miniature "coffee table" item--to be bought as a present for others.

Having now read nine of the Aubrey Maturin series and enjoyed them all, I have to say that this offering represents my only Patrick O'Brian experience in which I didn't get my money's worth.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Prauge Traveler on March 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I cannot claim to any nautical experience, however, I do claim to be one of Patrick O'Brian's all time fans. This book has helped me understand what the ____ some of the late 18th and early 19th century nautical terms and concepts mean. So, to keep this concise, if you love Patrick O'Brian's seafaring novels (start with Master and Commander if you are uninitiated to this amazing series), but are not a sailer yourself- then this is the book for you. It is fairly short, but interesting. You will be briefed on life in the navy, parts of the ships, names and functions of sails, combat, and many other topics that can confuse.
I also know that this book would serve as an excellent source for a H.S. to college level paper/presentation on life in Nelson's navy. The length and writting style make it highly readable. Also recomended are Dean King's lexicons on Patrick O'Brian's books ("A Sea of Words"). They include several sections on the history of the era, and are very interesting, as well as including an extensive dictionary of terms, old words, places and events.
If you already know a great deal about Nelson's Navy, then this might be a little too basic.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book covers some of the ground of Brian Lavery's 'Nelson's Navy'. Lavery's book is much more comprehensive and much larger. O'Brian's book has some color plates, but it was really written to take advantage of his name. I'd buy Lavery's book first, or "The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor, or a Key to the Leading of Rigging and to Practical Seamanship" by Darcy Lever (a contemporary book).
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Angus Macdonald on June 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of history-lite. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing in my view; far too many history books (& this comes from a History Major) are written by and for hyper-specialists. This book, however, hands you a lot of information quickly and in a relatively painless manner about the Royal Navy at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
The book is divided more or less into topics, although some material "sloshes" over from chapter to chapter. The style is neither drily academic nor chatty -- it is not an ABC book, however, with definitions of every term. O'Brien assumes that you already know a little something about nautical terms and the warfare of the era.
If you are a historian, this is not such a good book -- you will not find enough footnotes or bibliographical material to follow through for further research. If you are merely into battles, again this book will be a disappointment; much like the Aubrey-Maturin books, this work is as much concerned (if not moreso) with minor details of daily life and the ins and outs of naval bureaucracy as it is about battle.
If you want to know something about the topic, this is a decent introduction.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By L. Alper on January 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
First off, I must say that I am a very big fan of Patrick O'Brians Aubrey/Maturin novels. It is because of them that I searched for this book. I am, as O'Brian's sailors would have it, "a daisy cutting landlubber" & the maritime terms in his books leave me lost. I hoped "Men-of-War" would help rectify this, so that I could tell a poop from a head, & a ship from a brig, but I'm still sadly confused!
Even tho "Men-of-War" is well illustrated, the captions discuss things that I still can't find in the pictures! There are diagrams of sails & decks, then the text mentions other sails (such as "studding sails") or locations on the decks that do not appear in the diagrams! Confused? You bet! About the only fact I learned from this book is that the sails could be rotated; in every other aspect I am still as "at sea" as I was before reading this.
Also, this book is very very thin. It simply isn't worth the price! (Luckily I got mine from the library!) I remain a fan of O'Brians novels, but will not look to him to clarify facts in the future...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles Slovenski on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Being a known Jane Austen buff, a colleague told me I ought to have a look at Patrick O'Brian's novels which cover the same period. It has often been remarked upon that Jane Austen ignored the wars taking place during her time. In fact, she did not. Key characters such as Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) and Fanny Price's brother William (Mansfield Park), were career shipmen whose merits are well-enunciated in her novels. Two of Miss (how everyone likes to call her "Miss"!) Austen's brothers were also career navymen. The Navy was all around her and she knew it but had no need, despite that famously interpreted reference to "rears and vices," to discuss Navy life or strategy.

Nevertheless, this reader is curious to know how these men lived away from the ordered, civilised life of those "three or four families" in that country village of which Austen writes and to which these men inevitably returned to marry. Here in MEN-OF-WAR: Life in Nelson's Navy, we learn about the ships, the gunnery, the lifestyle and the protocol of the 18th century British Navy which successfully defended England from an invasion led by Napoleon.

The information in this book is concise and easily comprehensible, thanks to an economical and cheerful writing style. Information is brilliantly illustrated by color photos of paintings, drawings, cartoons and models of sailing vessels.

On a final note, there is now a wave (pun intended) of interest in Patrick O'Brian as a result of the detailed film MASTERS AND COMMANDERS. The Navy lifestyle illustrated in this book is depicted in the film, to the advantage of both.
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Frequently Bought Together

Men-of-War: Life in Nelson's Navy + Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World + Harbors and High Seas, 3rd Edition : An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian, Third Edition
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