BOOK REVIEW | Nelson’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815

Like its subject, this book is not to be trifled with. It is massive and heavy and not for the weak. Comprising 350 large format, thick pages, it must be read on a desk or table or while sitting in a straight-backed, preferably oaken, chair. How very appropriate!

Whatever its weight, it is a book’s content that counts and there is no doubt of the quality and quantity of that here. This new revised and updated edition of a thirty-year-old classic is now even more valuable.

Your reviewer happens to possess a copy of the first edition. It was first rate but this new edition has been significantly improved. Very appropriately, this edition contains a foreword by the renowned naval novelist Patrick O’Brian, perhaps the world’s best known Nelson obsessive.

Brian Lavery is the Curator Emeritus of Britain’s National Maritime Museum and is also something of a Nelson obsessive. The breadth and depth of his research, together with his general knowledge of the subject, is uniquely and impressively comprehensive. The collection of paintings and drawings he has managed to accumulate to illustrate his work is brilliant. The publisher, Osprey, has almost excelled itself with the quality of its presentation. They have formed a powerful team.

Nelson and his navy, of course, are the subject of innumerable books and films but none are as all-encompassing as this magnificent work. It covers almost every aspect of life in the Royal Navy during the period covered. Its prose and its pictures bring the Navy of Nelson to life brilliantly.

It is well worth the strained muscles that reading it entails.

Author: Brian Lavery

Available from Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.