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The Fighting Temeraire: The Battle of Trafalgar and the Ship that Inspired J. M. W. Turner's Most Beloved Painting (The Hearts of Oak Trilogy) Hardcover – November 15, 2010
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“Absorbing and enjoyable. Willis is a reliable and readable guide to the naval history embodied in the Temeraire. His book cleverly uses the microcosm of the life story of one ship to reflect the wider narrative of the decades-long struggle between Britain and France for mastery of the seas.”
- Sunday Times [London]
“Sam Willis's The Fighting Temeraire is an elegant lament for the vanished warships of the world and an eloquent plea for the preservation of those still afloat… discursive and fascinating… Anyone who has the smallest interest in naval history will treasure this book.”
- Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Sam Willis has lectured at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and consults on maritime painting for Christie's. Sam spent eighteen months as a Square Rig Able Sea-man, sailing the tall ships used in the Hornblower television series and award-winning film Shackleton. He is the author of Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare and the highly successful Fighting Ships series.
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It doesn't seem fair to me to penalize the book itself for this, but if I could have given a separate rating for form as opposed to content, it would have been low. Prospective readers should be aware that whoever prepared the book for the Kindle has done a shoddy job. A minor cavil is that there are no links from the text to the endnotes. This is not a serious problem because with only a few exceptions the notes are purely bibliographic, with no commentary, but it is annoying. There are a handful of footnotes, which are linked from the text, but I failed to notice the very discreet asterisks that identified them, and only found out that there were footnotes when I stumbled across them while paging through the back of the book.
A more serious flaw is that the place-names on the maps are largely unreadable. Also, there are no links between references in the text to illustrations and the illustrations themselves. In other words, when the text refers to "Fig. 19," one can't simply click on that reference to see the illustration. One must first navigate to the list of illustrations, which I bookmarked to get there more quickly, and then from there to the particular illustration sought. Even then (and this is characteristic of many Kindle books, it seems), one is taken to a page with nothing on it but the caption for the illustration. One must click yet again to go back a page to the illustration itself. This of course also means multiple additional clicks on the Back button to return to where one was reading.
The illustrations themselves are dark and muddy on the Kindle. I haven't seen the book, but I can't imagine that they are that bad on paper.
I recommend paying the relatively small differential to get the hardcover version. For the Turner painting, go on line to the National Gallery in London for a version in color that you can zoom in on.