Roy Adkins, with his wife, Lesley, returns to the Napoleonic War in The War for All the Oceans, a gripping account of the naval struggle that lasted from 1798 to 1815, a period marked at the beginning by Napoleon's seizing power and at the end by the War of 1812. In this vivid and visceral account, Adkins draws on eyewitness records to portray not only the battles but also the details of a sailor's life: shipwrecks, press-gangs, prostitutes, spies, and prisoners of war. The War for All the Oceans is epic narrative history, sure to appeal to fans of Patrick O'Brian and C. S. Forester, as well as all readers of military and social history.More
"Sumptuous storytelling." (Kirkus)
"Vivid....[A] rollicking saga." (Publishers Weekly)
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I really enjoyed this book!
The authors obviously did a great deal of research into the letters and writings of people who actually took part in making this history. Most of the material they quote is not from the elites but from common sailors, wives, prostitutes, prisoners of war, young officers, criminals, women aboard British warships, impressed Americans, smugglers, parole breakers, and otherwise unknown and disreputable participants. For me, this brought historical events into sharp focus.
No single memorable moment, rather it is the compilation of hundreds of individual moments, each as perfect as if captured in amber, that makes this history so compelling.
One of the best stories about the British navy in the Napoleonic era that highlights the sensibilities of the age involves the visit of the Queen to a battleship just newly arrived back in England. The sailors, being sailors, had brought aboard hundreds of prostitutes, which was a common practice in the British navy at the time. The Captain ordered that they be kept below decks while the Queen toured the ship. But, the Queen, being the Queen, looked down into a passageway and saw these women staring up at her as if she were from another planet. She immediately ordered that the women be allowed to come up on deck so they could see what was going on. Priceless!
A lot of comments here about the reader, most of them negative. Too bad. I enjoyed Lawlor's narration, his comic French accent and terrible Scottish accent as well. His interpretations of the voices of all these common people who witnessed this conflict added immeasurably to their humanity and their realness.
Pretty good, if disorganized
- N. Haws