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To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, October 25, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
It is, therefore, disappointing that such a fine book should be handicapped by numerous factual errors. Cartagena is not the capital of Venezuela. Napoleon's "crushing defeat" at Waterloo occurred on June 18, 1815 - not June 15. It is also difficult to accept the statement that the Battle of Trafalgar had all been for nothing, even "in a sense."
By the time the author reaches the twentieth century, one has the impression that he was running out of time or patience. The factual errors increase. The King George V class of battleships were not equipped with 16-inch guns to match the latest American and Japanese battleships. Unlike the Americans, the British had to proceed with the KGVs at an earlier date to address the German threat, and they given their unusual arrangement of ten 14-inch guns as a result. To be fair, the author does get the armament of this class of battleship correct later in his text. The Tribal class destroyer had a crew of between 190 and 226. The statement that Matabele was sunk with the loss of all but two of her crew of 4,000 is wildly inaccurate. The ship that assisted Duke of York in the sinking of the Scharnhorst, was the light cruiser Jamaica. This ship is incorrectly described by the author as a destroyer. Admiral Halsey did not participate actively in the Battle of Midway.Read more ›
Hoping that this was simply an isolated case of sloppy writing and editing, I continued to read in the book. On page 282, I was startled by still another absurdity, "The British navy enabled Clive to beat his rival Dupleix at the battle of Plassey in 1757..". Really? How did he manage to do so, when: (i) Dupleix (the governor of the French colony at Pondicherry) had already been recalled in 1754; and, (ii) Clive fought the forces of a local Indian prince, the Nawab of Bengal (Siraj ud Daulah), at Plassey (in Bengal, nowhere near the battles in the Carnatic to which Mr. Herman refers) and there were no French troops in this battle? These are not complex questions of fact - Mr. Herman could easily refer to any standard history of India, or if he felt inclined to a bit more research, to more specialized histories of the rise of British power in India.
Apart from errors of fact, there are questions of judgment. Is it really accurate to refer to Napoleon at the relief of Toulon as a "committed terrorist"? What on earth does this mean? He had written one anti-Paoli essay,a piece of Jacobin propaganda, and met Robespierre. But he was inserted into a position in the French forces relieving Toulon by Saliceti, a "depute en mission", who knew the Bonapartes from Corsica. Perhaps Mr.Read more ›
What jumps right out at you from the beginning is how deeply the Royal Navy which, in the nineteenth century, could justly claim to "rule the waves," is itself rooted in lawlessness, brutality and the greed of the pirate. Yet Herman keeps it all in perspective and shows us how a better way of thinking, a philosophy of fairness enforced, grew out of this, alongside the gradual increase in British seapower.
After a number of false starts and lucky breaks, including successfully (but just barely) avoiding an invasion by a clumsy Spanish admiral and his inattentive monarch, the Elizabethan English were granted a reprieve during which to grow their seafaring prowess. They did this by partly living off the powerful but sluggish annual seagoing tribute caravan called "La Flota" which kept the Spaniards afloat in gold and silver. But the Spanish King Philip, a micromanager of the worst sort, also seemed to lack a head for finances. He mortgaged his nation ever more deeply into debt as English piracy grew and, eventually, began to take the gold and silver from his galleons before he and his successors could. The result: Spain's fleet stagnated and declined and her ever more ossified civil system fell into decay. Not so the up and coming English.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The tone and approach of Arthur Herman’s “To Rule the Waves” is captured by the subtitle of an earlier book: “How the Scots Invented the Modern World. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Harry Eagar
This text should be required reading in all middle school and high school history classes instead of the garbage that passes for Western Civilization or US History. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cabin Crow
Good read but nothing new for true readers of this genre', in fact analysis is a bit week.Published 10 months ago by RK
A book to rule the readers, magnificent historical researchPublished 10 months ago by GIANNIS THEODORATOS
Why read a history of the British Navy? Why read a history of a Navy? A partial answer is that war is always entertaining. Read morePublished 11 months ago by anupamifs