another one-book question

Similar to my Gunpowder Plot query — if I were to read only one history of the Napoleonic Wars, which one should it be? I’m specifically looking for a history of Britain’s naval campaign. The kind of thing that would be useful background for reading O’Brian, Forester, et al.

0 Responses to “another one-book question”

  1. sartorias

    I recommend starting with NAVAL WARFARE IN THE AGE OF SAIL–clear, excellent pix and references.

    • Marie Brennan

      The Amazon blurb makes that one sound like a reference for ships and how they functioned — is it also a good guide to that specific war? I’m actually reasonably well-informed on the ship end (though I’ll need to learn more if I’m ever going to write my Great Big Sailing Fantasy); it’s the war itself I know almost nothing about. As in, okay, there was a big battle at Trafalgar, and that’s about all I know. 🙂

  2. shui_long

    N.A.M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean (A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815)

    A big thick book, though a third of it is appendices and bibliography, so not as daunting as it might look. I found it very readable – it’s not just for naval specialists, and indeed covers background of politics and social history as well as the Royal Navy itself.

    • akashiver

      I’ll ditto this one with the caveat that I don’t know how good it is on strategy. It is considered one of *the* books of naval history, however.

  3. novalis

    Perhaps the most accurate and complete work would be Novik’s five-volume (so far) history, but I think she’s only up to about 1807 or so…

  4. unquietsoul5

    A singular reference is hard. I guess what has to be asked is if you are interested in battles or interested in the politics or in the culture and technology of the era?

    When I was running A Napoleonic GURPS Conspiracy game I used about 5 books and a liberal usage of Wikepedia to understand things and set up my personal files for it (I was focusing on specific dates and was not dealing with the battlefield material specifically, though I had a reasonable book on it.) I was more interested in people of the era, really, and the politics, rather than the wars.

    • Marie Brennan

      For this purpose, I’m looking at the war itself — so battles, and politics insofar as they relate to the battles, i.e. who was allied with whom and when.

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