BOOK REVIEW - Trafalgar: the men, the battle, the storm

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I picked this up for Kindle at £1.50. It basically splits into the three elements of the title. What I liked about it was the insights into the people involved, not just the famous names but also the ordinary seamen and marines on both sides - where they were from, their roles and in some cases how they died. I also enjoyed the information on the post-battle storm and the struggle to secure the prizes and save the crews. This then leads on to what some of the people did in later years. In summary, and for me, it brings into focus the human element of this most famous battle. There are few illustrations in the book and they came out okay on the Kindle version, which sometimes is not the case.
I would recommend this book, and at £1.50 you can't really go wrong. If you want the hardback version ask Santa to add it to his list. Hope you enjoy it, too.
 
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I confess I do not understand this taste of the English for defeats (Trafalgar, waterloo ...).:cool:
You may want to look into the book Seize the Fire by Adam Nicolson.. I hope I do not mis-understand your comment, but it seems your confession is about the English themselves enjoying being defeated. But Trafalgar and Waterloo were generally victorious in terms of the British view of the outcome. Nicholson's book delves into the twin aspects of the British Royal Navy's underlying character -- the Roman Virgilian, and the Greco Homeric -- two different approaches to battle and war which combined to firmly establish Victorian Britain as the West's, and much of the East's, predominate economic power.
Characteristics both Virgilian and Homeric are evident in the Royal Navy's war vessels during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic War, particularly in the expected conduct of British Officers, and also in the vessels themselves.
 
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I'm sorry, but that was humorous.
These are of course great victories for the English.
Hence the old joke of the Frenchman who arrives in London and asks why the English give monuments names of defeat. :)
 
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For Graham: of course they are also English victories, but don't forget that we won the war ......
For those who do not understand this "fight" between French and Britons, I advise you to read 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke (on sale at Amazon). Délicieux (Delicious).
 
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Ah. Good. Humor is more than welcome and the French were not the only ones annoyed by the English... who were also good at annoying themselves. I will secure the book one way or the other, hopefully used and in good condition. Given the flag below Stuzi are you familiar with Jean Boudriot's four volume master work on the architecture, fitting, masting, and manning of a French 74? There is nothing that can or will surpass it now that Boudriot has left us. It's a good thing that French architects taught the English how to design and build frigates and ships-of-the-line. Or, at least I think so.
 
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Ah. Good. Humor is more than welcome and the French were not the only ones annoyed by the English... who were also good at annoying themselves. I will secure the book one way or the other, hopefully used and in good condition. Given the flag below Stuzi are you familiar with Jean Boudriot's four volume master work on the architecture, fitting, masting, and manning of a French 74? There is nothing that can or will surpass it now that Boudriot has left us. It's a good thing that French architects taught the English how to design and build frigates and ships-of-the-line. Or, at least I think so.
Hello,
Of course, I am familiar with the work of Jean Boudriot who was the pioneer of historical naval architecture.
I don't think the French taught the English how to design and build frigates and other ships of the line.
Let's give credit where credit is due, the best, until the 17th century, were the Dutch. Then, in the 18th century, it was the race between French and English. One was inspired by the techniques of the other by spying and capturing ships.
To my knowledge, I am not an expert, the English and French warships were distinguished by the design strategy, the English aimed at efficiency and the French at performance.
One finds in shipbuilding the characteristic features of the peoples. The British, Anglo-Saxons, being by nature pragmatic, the French, more Latin (don't forget that the Franks were Germans) were more attracted by theory, "panache". If a Frenchman of the 18th century had been asked to choose between a fast and beautiful ship and a ship of some aspect but more solid and more practical, you can be sure that he would have chosen the first one whereas I am sure that a British would have chosen the second one.
Trafalgar demonstrated that the British were right even if other factors explain this victory such as the training of the crews.

PS : these are generalities, there are always exceptions.
 
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Stutzi - Compared to me you are an expert. I only came into thinking about the vessels as my not-to-be-published book of the Napoleonic war and later (it will extend into early steam power) began to required more than slip-shod guesswork.
From what I know of history your fast and beautiful vs. solid and practical take on things rings true in many ways. Any other thoughts you'd like to share will be most welcome.
WmRussell
 
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Stutzi - Compared to me you are an expert. I only came into thinking about the vessels as my not-to-be-published book of the Napoleonic war and later (it will extend into early steam power) began to required more than slip-shod guesswork.
From what I know of history your fast and beautiful vs. solid and practical take on things rings true in many ways. Any other thoughts you'd like to share will be most welcome.
WmRussell
Thank you Russell.
France in the 18th century, was four times more populated than the United Kingdom with a per capita income of the same order as the UK, an equivalent level of technology and, although it is not an island, has more than 5000 km of coastline (excluding overseas possessions) and is therefore a maritime country.
The question we can legitimately ask ourselves is what explains why we got left behind.
A first explanation is the waste of resources by the state and the nobility in pomp and ceremony.
Did you know that the only costume worn by Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother, at the wedding of Mary Stuart with the future King of France in Paris in 1558, cost as much as the annual budget of the British Kingdom at the same time, and there were hundreds of guests just as richly dressed! I am not quoting this anecdote by chance because it was during the reign of Elizabeth first that the English conceived the strategy of conquering the control of the seas. What they took a century to do.
The necklace that Marie Antoinette was offered by Cardinal de Roan cost the price of a first level front-line ship and I am not talking about the infinitely higher sums spent on the construction, maintenance and celebrations of the Palace of Versailles.
Thus, for two and a half centuries (from the second half of the 16th to the end of the 18th century), the more industrious Bretons invested in the economy and the navy while the French nobility and the state wasted the country's resources on luxury and festivities.
This is reflected in the warships. French ships were much more decorated than their british equivalent. English sailors of the time said that French ships were made up like prostitutes. The money spent on unnecessary pomp and pageantry was as much that was no longer available to build other ships.
Another explanation is that the United Kingdom is an island and did not need to develop a large permanent army, which allowed it to have a larger budget for its navy.
This need to dominate the seas which was initially military, preventing Spanish and French troops from invading Great Britain (Great Armada) was also economic, protecting the sea routes.
This is how a small kingdom (we didn't yet speak of a country at that time) became in the 19th century the biggest world power. Hats off!
You'll tell me that all has not been negative for the French, we still have the luxury industry from these sumptuary expenses ... but it's expensive to pay for it ....:confused:
 
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Thank you Russell.
France in the 18th century, was four times more populated than the United Kingdom with a per capita income of the same order as the UK, an equivalent level of technology and, although it is not an island, has more than 5000 km of coastline (excluding overseas possessions) and is therefore a maritime country.
The question we can legitimately ask ourselves is what explains why we got left behind.
A first explanation is the waste of resources by the state and the nobility in pomp and ceremony.
Did you know that the only costume worn by Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother, at the wedding of Mary Stuart with the future King of France in Paris in 1558, cost as much as the annual budget of the British Kingdom at the same time, and there were hundreds of guests just as richly dressed! I am not quoting this anecdote by chance because it was during the reign of Elizabeth first that the English conceived the strategy of conquering the control of the seas. What they took a century to do.
The necklace that Marie Antoinette was offered by Cardinal de Roan cost the price of a first level front-line ship and I am not talking about the infinitely higher sums spent on the construction, maintenance and celebrations of the Palace of Versailles.
Thus, for two and a half centuries (from the second half of the 16th to the end of the 18th century), the more industrious Bretons invested in the economy and the navy while the French nobility and the state wasted the country's resources on luxury and festivities.
This is reflected in the warships. French ships were much more decorated than their british equivalent. English sailors of the time said that French ships were made up like prostitutes. The money spent on unnecessary pomp and pageantry was as much that was no longer available to build other ships.
Another explanation is that the United Kingdom is an island and did not need to develop a large permanent army, which allowed it to have a larger budget for its navy.
This need to dominate the seas which was initially military, preventing Spanish and French troops from invading Great Britain (Great Armada) was also economic, protecting the sea routes.
This is how a small kingdom (we didn't yet speak of a country at that time) became in the 19th century the biggest world power. Hats off!
You'll tell me that all has not been negative for the French, we still have the luxury industry from these sumptuary expenses ... but it's expensive to pay for it ....:confused:
Stutzi - Yes, I love it when people take time to communicate information in depth. Your words dove-tail with other histories I have read. Re your last pgph, no, the thought did not occur to me. Given your knowledge, I think you'd enjoy the sicio-economic-political aspect of Sieze the Fire. It's available used, inexpensive, and on-line. It's not so much an x-y-z --- "and then, and then" --- book as an exploration of motivation, both private and public.
In particular, your bringing Breton to light expands my horizon.
One aspect of Seize the Fire that I'll not take time to cite by page numbers or accurately here, deals with (more than once) Napoleon being short of admirals experienced in battle, and his (apparent) inability to adapt land-based military strategy and tactics to ocean and sea conditions. From what I've read, Rosilly, sent to replace Villeneuve, was an example of a capable, but out-moded and quite elderly admiral. But, at the same time, Barham, as the RN's First Lord, was also elderly. The difference may have been in sheer numbers available who were of the sword class of battle and not the pen class of administration.
Cheers! and keep the information flowing. I'll probably incorporate something of Breton in my book. I already have the extent of the French continent's shore line depicted in the story, mostly as a matter of being able to run the smuggling operations which were more than useful to both sides.
WmRussell
 
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Stutzi - Yes, I love it when people take time to communicate information in depth. Your words dove-tail with other histories I have read. Re your last pgph, no, the thought did not occur to me. Given your knowledge, I think you'd enjoy the sicio-economic-political aspect of Sieze the Fire. It's available used, inexpensive, and on-line. It's not so much an x-y-z --- "and then, and then" --- book as an exploration of motivation, both private and public.
In particular, your bringing Breton to light expands my horizon.
One aspect of Seize the Fire that I'll not take time to cite by page numbers or accurately here, deals with (more than once) Napoleon being short of admirals experienced in battle, and his (apparent) inability to adapt land-based military strategy and tactics to ocean and sea conditions. From what I've read, Rosilly, sent to replace Villeneuve, was an example of a capable, but out-moded and quite elderly admiral. But, at the same time, Barham, as the RN's First Lord, was also elderly. The difference may have been in sheer numbers available who were of the sword class of battle and not the pen class of administration.
Cheers! and keep the information flowing. I'll probably incorporate something of Breton in my book. I already have the extent of the French continent's shore line depicted in the story, mostly as a matter of being able to run the smuggling operations which were more than useful to both sides.
WmRussell
This is a great conversation between citizens of France and USA on the French and English relations and impacts. Keep up the discourse for sideliners to benefit. It brings a new perspective to SoS upon which so many models are built without an understanding of the context of which they came. Just a speculation. Rich (PT-2)
 
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